Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. are the 2021 DFB-Pokal winners! The Black & Yellows ran out 4-1 (3-0) winners against Rasenballsport Leipzig in the final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin and claimed the second most important trophy in German domestic football for the fifth time after 1965, 1989, 2012 and 2017.
Boris Rupert reporting from Berlin
BVB surged into a 3-0 first-half lead thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho (5, 45) and Erling Haaland (28). Marco Reus played a decisive role in all three goals. Leipzig piled on the pressure in the second period and were twice denied by the woodwork, before Dani Olmo pulled a goal back in the 71st minute. But BVB killed the game with an 87th-minute counter that was rounded off by Haaland. The margin of victory slightly flattered given the balance of play. Leipzig were a very strong opponent.
Second versus fourth in the Bundesliga table. Both teams had to go to extra-time once on their way to the Berlin final (BVB versus Paderborn, Leipzig in Bremen). Both kept a clean sheet in four of the previous five rounds. And both reached the final with almost the same amount of goals scored and conceded (Borussia had a 16-2 goal difference, Leipzig's was 15-1). BVB boasted the superior record against Leipzig in recent meetings with three wins on the bounce (3-2, 3-1, 2-0); the overall head-to-head record read six wins, two draws and two defeats from Dortmund's perspective.
BVB were without the injured Hitz, Morey, Moukoko, Schmelzer, Witsel and Zagadou. The two teams made the following changes from the league meeting that BVB won 3-2 five days ago: Borussia started with Bürki, Bellingham and Haaland in place of Hitz, Reyna and Hazard, while Leipzig brought in Mukiele, Halstenberg, Haidara and Sörloth in place of Orban, Henrichs, Angelino and Forsberg.
In contrast to their meeting in the Bundesliga last season, BVB took to the field in a 4-3-3 formation in the first half. Reus, Haaland and Sancho formed the attacking triumvirate, with Bellingham and Dahoud behind them in the midfield either side of Can, who occupied a central role in front of the back four. Leipzig, who took to the pitch in a 3-1-4-2 system, opted to forego long spells of possesson and instead played an aggressive pressing game deep in the Dortmund half from the start, which Borussia tried to circumvent by switching the ball out wide. Leipzig had more possession of the ball and attacked almost exclusively down the left flank via Haidara and Sabitzer. Borussia at times attacked high up the pitch, but the focal point was very much on keeping the middle of the park compact.
The match & analysis:
Leipzig applied pressure from the start, but it was Borussia who got the early goal. Reus won possession from Kampl in midfield and fed it to Haaland. Dahoud spread the ball out to Sancho on the left flank, and the Englishman picked his spot before curling the ball into the far corner from the corner of the box. BVB were 1-0 up inside four minutes!
The men from Saxony might have appeared to be in control, attacking consistently and registering five shots within the first half an hour, but none of them posed a threat to the BVB goal. Instead, the Black & Yellows made it 2-0 with their second shot. Reus intercepted a pass from Hwang and had the vision to pick out Haaland, who used his body brilliantly to hold off Upamecano before sidefooting the ball past Gulacsi and into the Leipzig net (28).
Aside from Sörloth's shot into the side-netting (39), Dortmund looked solid defensively and repeatedly caused headaches with their counter-pressing. With Leipzig's players far up the pitch in the 45th minute, Dahoud played the ball down the left flank to Reus. Upamecano had fouled Haaland on the halfway line but referee Brych played the advantage and the captain ran into the box before squaring to Sancho, who cut inside as Halstenberg slid in to make the block and fired into an empty net for 3-0 (45). The offside flag went up, but VAR judged that everything had been in order and Brych pointed to the centre-circle seconds later. The goal stood!
Bellingham had to stay in the changing room at half-time and was replaced by Hazard, prompting a switch to a 4-2-3-1 system with Reus in a central role behind Haaland. Sancho (right) and Hazard (left) played on the wings, with Dahoud and Can the defensive midfield duo.
Leipzig made two changes – Nkunku and Poulsen replaced Hwang and Sörloth – and looked fired up and re-energised after the restart. Nkunku hit the bar within 23 seconds, before Sabitzer (48) and Olmo (49) tested Bürki from 17 metres out. Leipzig continued to show belief they could turn it around and piled on the pressure. Poulsen's shot was turned behind for a corner (55).
As the match wore on, the Westphalians eventually rediscovered their counter-attacking threat. In the 65th minute, Reus ran on to Haaland's header but was forced out wide as he approached the goal. He still managed to pick out the run of Hazard, but the Belgian's outstretched leg could not connect with the ball properly in the Berlin rain and it flew agonisingly wide of the upright.
Forsberg struck the woodwork at the other end in the 71st minute, but Leipzig kept the move going and seconds later Olmo thundered an unsaveable shot into the top corner from 18 metres to make it 3-1. And that was not the end to the danger in and around the Dortmund box!
Sancho had the opportunity to seal the victory with six minutes of normal time remaining. The Englishman latched on to substitute Delaney's through-ball and rounded Gulacsi, but then opted to pick out the run of Reus rather than go for goal himself and the Leipzig shot-stopper managed to back-track and get a hand to the ball. Gulacsi made another save seconds later, this time denying Guerreiro.
But the all-important fourth goal eventually came following a counter-attack down the right flank. Sancho cut the ball back towards Haaland, whose shot struck his standing leg and flew into the net to seal a 4-1 win!
BVB are back in Bundesliga action on Sunday when they travel to 1. FSV Mainz 05. Kick-off is at 18:00 CET. The season will then end next Saturday with a home game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen (15:30 CET).