RB Leipzig beat Freiburg 4-2 on penalties in the German Cup final on Saturday, as Domenico Tedesco’s team claimed their first major title despite playing for an hour with 10 men at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
Freiburg captain Christian Guinter and striker Ermdin Demirovic missed a penalty kick to wrap up a thrilling match that ended 1-1 after extra time.
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“It’s crazy,” Leipzig manager Oliver Mintzlaff told ARD. “The start of the match was very bad, we played a very bad half, very shy, and did not succeed in the interventions …”.
“We had to show a different face coming out after the first half. Then came the red card, which of course was justified. The fact that she [all] It worked out in the end is incredible.
“This is the first title in our club’s rather short history. We have to think about what we have achieved in the last 13 years and more than six years in the Bundesliga. We played in front of a fantastic crowd… that’s fantastic.”
Midfielder Maximilian Eggstein put Freiburg ahead in the 19th minute with an excellent low shot from the edge of the penalty area, a goal that held up after the VAR review of the possibility of a handball at the present time.
Leipzig almost equalized five minutes later when Christopher Nkunku rebounded from close range and beat goalkeeper Mark Flecken, but defender Nico Schlutterbeek saved his team several inches from the goal line.
However, as Freiburg fans began celebrating, cheering, and lighting torches, Nkunku finally spoiled their party with a 76th minute settlement.
The 24-year-old France international, who was voted Bundesliga player of the season and beat the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland for the award, blasted the ball over the line from Willy Urban’s precise header.
The late equalizer increased life in Leipzig, who played with one man behind 57 minutes after the red card shown to defender Marcel Halstenberg after a risky intervention on striker Lucas Hoeler.
Both teams had the chance to win near the end of normal time, while Freiburg hit the post twice and hit the crossbar in the extra period.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig were denied a penalty for fouling midfielder Dani Olmo after the VAR scored in the dying minutes – a decision that had already given substitute Kevin Campbell a second yellow card for his protests.
Leipzig won the cup for the first time after finishing second in 2018-19 and 2020-21.
This season’s Europa League semi-finalist win could have given them a return to second tier competition in Europe, but they have already secured a fourth consecutive season in the Champions League by finishing fourth in the Bundesliga.
Freiburg has enjoyed one of the best campaigns in the club’s history, and with Leipzig winning the cup, a sixth place finish in the final league table earns them a return to the Europa League for the first time since 2013.
It also means that seventh-placed Cologne will take part in the Europa League qualifiers.