Bremen wins dramatic semifinal
17 March 2004
BREMEN – Werder Bremen came from behind in overtime to win a dramatic German Football Federation Cup semifinal match Tuesday against second-division club VfB Luebeck, 3-2, to keep alive their hopes of a “double” title-winning season.
Bremen, leading the first division 9 points clear of second-place Bayern Munich, were the clear favourites in hosting Luebeck, which is in the relegation zone of the second division.
But the Luebeck club gave Bremen a genuine “cup fight”, surprising the hosts by playing offensively and not digging in. On Luebeck’s first chance, a corner kick in the 11th minute, the corner shot by Jens Scharping was headed into Bremen’s goal by Bremen defender Mladen Krstajic to put Luebeck up, 1-0.
That lead held up through the halftime, although Bremen came close on several shots by Brazilian strike Ailton, either just wide, or in the 27th minute when Luebeck defender Timo Achenbacher cleared at the line.
Bremen equalised in the 54th minute on a header by Johan Micoud, who till that point had been effectively marked out of the game by a dogged Luebeck defence.
From then on, the match was an open slugfest, with both sides going for the knock-out punch. Achenbach fired just wide for Luebeck in the 69th minute, while Bremen striker Ivan Klasnic just missed on a deflected shot six minutes later. An Ailton shot after a Bremen corner kick missed by centimetres in the 80th minutes.
Two minutes from the regulation whistle, Ailton narrowly missed being the match-winner, when his shot from around the penalty spot hit the Luebeck crossbar.
In overtime, Luebeck drew first blood again, when Iranian midfielder Ferydoon Zandi’s shot was deflected by Krstajic past Bremen keeper Andreas Reinke in the 93rd minute.
Bremen threw everything into the attack before a screaming, sold- out crowd of 38,000 fans, and Ailton was finally rewarded for his many efforts, pivoting at the edge of the penalty area and left- footing a missile past outstretched Luebeck keeper Mike Wilde to make it 2-2 in the 111th minute.
Three minutes later, Paraguayan substitute Nelson Valdez fired from almost the same position to make it 3-2 for Bremen.
Bremen, who have won the German Cup title four times previously, will face the winner of Wednesday’s match between Alemannia Aachen and Borussia Moenchengladbach in the cup final in Berlin in May.
Subject: German News