Borussia Dortmund have been eliminated from the DFB Cup. The Bundesliga table leaders were defeated 7-5 by SV Werder Bremen on penalties (3-3, 1-1. 1-1).
Boris Rupert reporting
Rashica gave Werder an early lead (5') in front of 81,365 onlookers in a sold-out Signal Iduna Park, after which Reus equalised with an excellent goal from a free-kick immediately before half-time to take the score to 1-1 in a war of attrition. Although Borussia looked to be the far superior team, the superbly organised Bremen players afforded their opposition hardly any chances from open play, with Delaney hitting the crossbar after a corner in extra time. Pulisic put his team ahead for the first time in the encounter in the 105' minute at the end of a brilliant move, only for Pizarro to restore parity again straight away (108'). In a dramatic end to the match, Hakimi scored for 3-2 in the 113' minute, but Harnik would force the game to penalties by finding the back of the net in the 119' minute for 3-3. Bremen would prove to have the stronger nerves in the subsequent shootout.
BVB had managed to get past Werder in four of their previous cup duels. There had been a 2-1 home win over Bremen in the Bundesliga this season.
After Bürki and Hitz had been ruled out due to illness (influenza in both cases), U23s goalkeeper Oelschlägel was brought in to make his professional debut. Furthermore, Sancho and Schmelzer were also unavailable due to sickness, while Akanji and Piszczek were missing as well. Three days after the league match in Frankfurt, there were three more changes to the starting eleven: Toprak, Pulisic and Götze lined up in place of Piszczek, Sancho and Alcácer.
Werder set up in a 3-5-2 basic formation with Sahin in the middle of a defensive line that collapsed into a back five when Dortmund were in possession. Playing on the break, they repeatedly tried to get the ball to Kruse so that he could distribute after falling back to collect. The Borussia men took to the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation and changed Diallo from central defence to left-back.
The match and analysis:
From Oelschlägel's perspective, the evening could not have got off to a worse start. After Diallo and Gebre Selassie had contested the ball, referee Brych awarded Bremen a free-kick 18 metres out from BVB's goal in a half-right position. Kruse hit the ball hard and flat towards the penalty spot where the oncoming Rashica got a touch to it to change its trajectory decisively, giving Oelschlägel no chance of making the save as a result. After four minutes played, Werder had gone ahead with the first shot of the match – and defended skilfully thereafter, with their ten outfield players moving as a perfectly tiered unit within a corridor smaller than 15 metres. Nevertheless, the Black and Yellows understood to move the ball around fluidly and pass their way up to just in front of the opposition's 18-yard box.
However, Bremen conceded hardly any shots on goal. The best chance fell to Götze in the 14' minute when he performed a technically brilliant back heel to put the ball fractionally wide of the left post. In contrast, Bremen's game was characterised purely by sniping on the counter. Rashica put the ball just wide of the goal on one occasion.
Seconds before the two minutes of injury time that had been added on to the first passage of play were up, a foul on Witsel gave BVB a free-kick exactly 20 metres out from Bremen's goal. Reus lifted the ball over the wall to put it in the top of the net for 1-1. Given the 70 percent possession statistic, it was a deserved equaliser!
Reus equalises before being substituted
Alcácer was brought on to replace Reus (muscular problem) for the second lot of 45 minutes. The balance of play continued in the same vein, with Borussia applying pressure while Bremen continued to put on an excellent defensive display, superbly marshalled by their chief defender, Sahin. After 70 minutes were up, BVB's possession was up to 73%, but Bremen had more shots on goal to their name (7-3). Oelschlägel excelled in his handling of distance shots from Kruse both before (43') and after (54') the break.
Bremen moved to a back four after Möhwald had been sent on in Sahin's stead (76'), and had a chance to take the game to 2-1 in the 89' minute. However, Oelschlägel saved a Kruse free-kick from 20 metres out that had been deflected by Weigl with a world-class save! Borussia too were to notch up another gilt-edged chance to progress to the quarter finals without the need for extra time when Delaney headed the ball onto the crossbar after a corner (90+1').
Philipp and Bruun Larsen replaced Götze and Guerreiro, while Bremen switched formation again, this time to a 4-3-3. In the 105' minute, Witsel intercepted a goal kick from Pavlenka, whereupon Pulisic sprinted and popped up unmarked in front of Bremen's goal after playing a one-two with Alcácer. He kept his wits about him to slot home for 2-1, but Pizarro was able to score for 2-2 soon after.
Now it was an exchange of blows as a game of patience morphed into an exhilarating cup battle. Bruun Larsen was denied by a brilliant reaction stop from Pavlenka (109'), Alcácer put a free kick from 21 metres out just wide of the goal (111'), and then Philipp put in a cross which Hakimi managed to prod over the line out of a goalmouth scramble for 3-2 (113'). Oelschlägel made an excellent save to keep out Klaassen's deflected shot (118'), but was subsequently beaten by Harnik's bouncing header (119').
In the ensuing penalty shootout, the first two Dortmund takers, Alcácer and Philipp, failed to get past Pavlenka. Witsel and Weigl scored, but so too did the four Bremen men Pizarro, M. Eggestein, Klaassen and Kruse.
BVB's Bundesliga campaign continues on Saturday with a home game against TSG Hoffenheim. Kick-off is at 15:30 CET. The draw for the DFB Cup quarter finals will be made on Sunday at 18:15 CET on German TV's ARD-Sportschau.