RB Leipzig win first major trophy in 13-year history with DBK Pokal final win against Freiburg
RB Leipzig claimed the first major trophy in their 13-year history after Domenico Todesco’s side edged past Freiburg 4-2 on penalties in the DBK Pokal final. It was third time lucky for Leipzig, who had lost two Pokal finals in the past three years. Meanwhile, Freiburg’s 118 year wait for a major honour goes on.
Leipzig's Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi (C) and his teammates celebrate with the trophy after the German Cup final football match between SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on May 21, 2022.
Leipzig, who played over 60 minutes with 10 men, beat Freiburg 4-2 on penalties in the DBF Pokal final, with the two teams having been level at 1-1 after 120 minutes at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Maximilian Eggestein opened the scoring for Freiburg midway through the first half in controversial fashion, after the ball was directed into the German midfielder’s path by the hand of team-mate Roland Sallai.
In the second half Freiburg’s Lucas Holer was cynically brought down by Marcel Halstenberg, who received a straight red card, yet Leipzig still managed to find a way back in the game after talisman Christopher Nkunku claimed his 35th goal of the season to level proceedings.
Freiburg hit the woodwork three times in extra time, while Leipzig had a massive shout for a penalty waved away by the referee moments before the final whistle after Dani Olmo was brought down by Nicolas Hofler in the box.
Leipzig subsequently won 4-2 on penalties and claimed the first trophy in their 13-year history after Christian Gunter and Ermedin Demirovic missed their respective spot kicks for Freiburg.
The ‘nearly team’ finally claim silverware. Leipzig had lost the two previous DFB-Pokal finals - albeit against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively - and were considered by some as a team that could not quite deliver when it counted.
Indeed, schadenfreude was the overwhelming emotion across Germany when Leipzig lost the two previous finals, while a similar glee was shared by German fans when the club were knocked out of the Europa League semi final against Rangers last month.
Since their inception in 2009 Leipzig have shot up the football pyramid despite facing opposition from a substantial proportion of opposition supporters who believe that the club’s business model is at odds with Germany’s rich football culture.
However today’s victory sees Leipzig cap off a promising season, in which they claimed a top four finish, with a first major trophy and under the stewardship of Domenico Tedesco the club's fans should be confident that more silverware is on the horizon.
Leipzig have been the Bundesliga’s in-form team since the winter break, losing just one of their 21 competitive matches, and now that they have broken their trophy duck they will head into next season expecting to add more silverware to today's cup win.
Leipzig have long been tipped as the team of the future in Germany. Whether you like it or not, they may have just become a team of the present.
RB Leipzig ist DFB-Pokalsieger
Image credit: Getty Images
Man of the Match
Nkunku (RB Leipzig) - The Leipzig star, who earlier this month became the first French player to win the Bundesliga’s player of the year award since Frank Ribery, was tipped to be the difference maker in the Pokal final. However the Leipzig attacker had a quiet first half in which he was brilliantly marshalled by Nico Schlotterbeck.
Yet the best players influence the biggest games in the most decisive moments and Nkunku certainly did that.
Nkunku bundled in his side’s equaliser, which was incidentally the Leipzig forward's 35 goal in all competitions this season, while he stepped up to take the first penalty in the shoot out, arrowing an unsaveable spot-kick into the top corner.
19’ - GOAL! Freiburg 1-0 Leipzig - Gunter directed a cross into the path of Sallai, whose poor first touch saw the ball bounce onto his hand, but then fortuitously into the path of his team mate Eggestein, who fired a shot from the edge of the area into the bottom corner.
23’ - OFF THE LINE! - N.Schlotterbeck, who was playing his last game for Freiburg before a summer move to Borussia Dortmund, cleared the ball off the line after Nkunku's instinctive close range shot ricocheted off the keeper and threatened to trickle into the goal.
56’ - LEIPZIG RED CARD - Halstenberg received a straight red card after he tugged Holer to the floor with the Freiburg forward having been through on goal.
76’ - GOAL! Freiburg 1-1 Leipzig - Willi Orban’s wonderful header looped towards the back post where Nkunku tapped in to bring Leipzig level.
103’ - FREIBURG HIT THE POST - Peter Gulasci tipped a Janik Haberer shot onto the post, with the rebound falling to Demirovic, but the Bosnian forward who had an open goal to aim at fired over the bar!
115- FREIBURG HIT THE POST AGAIN - Haberer lashed a speculative volley at goal from 25 yards, with his effort rattling against the crossbar.
117’ - LEIPZIG PENALTY APPEAL - Olmo was brought down in the box by a Hofler but after a lengthy VAR check the officials insist that the Freiburg defender got a slight touch of the ball when making his last ditch sliding challenge.
120’ - PENALTY MISS - Demirovic struck his decisive penalty against the crossbar to hand a 10-man Leipzig their first ever trophy.
Nkunku's goal means he has now netted 35 goals and claimed 20 assists in all competitions this season, including four goals and three assists in six cup appearances this season.
Leipzig have now won four and drawn three of their last eight meetings with Freiburg, scoring on each occasion.