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German Cup: Werder Bremen shrug off Bundesliga troubles to earn semifinal berth

Third-bottom in the Bundesliga, Werder Bremen are the first team to secure a spot in the semifinal draw. Claudio Pizarro was on the scoresheet once more as the Northern Germans came from behind in Leverkusen.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Werder Bremen

(Hernandez 21' - Garcia 30', Pizarro 42' pen, Grillitsch 82')

Werder Bremen completed another dramatic comeback to secure a 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen and a place in the semifinals of the German Cup.

Javier Hernandez's opener from the penalty spot was quickly cancelled out by Santiago Garcia on the half hour mark. Claudio Pizarro's seventh goal in his last six competitive matches gave Viktor Skripnik's team a half-time lead. Despite missing chances to seal the win in the second half, Florian Grillitsch rounded off a fine counterattack with eight minutes left.

Bremen, who have won the German Cup six times, have shown they have the stomach for the fight in the Bundesliga, coming from behind to claim positive results in two of their last three league matches. Viktor Skripnik's side bounced back from a thumping loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach to reach the semifinals.

Leverkusen started strongest in a repeat of the 2009 German Cup final. Karim Bellarabi's shot was an early warning sign before the hosts struck first from the penalty spot. Stefan Kiessling was upended by Alejandro Galvez at the corner of the box and Hernandez tucked home his 20th goal in 18 games.

Bremen needed eight minutes to summon up a fight. Clever interplay between Levin Öztunali and Fin Bartels created the opportunity, which was eventually brought to an end by a last-ditch challenge from Wendell. The Brazilian full-back hauled down Bartels in front of goal and was dismissed for denying a clear scoring opportunity for the away side. Pizarro finished confidently from 12 yards.

Away glory for Werder

DFB Fußball Werder Bremen Bayer Leverkusen

Santiago Garcia celebrates the equalizer for Bremen

Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt introduced Andre Ramalho to shore up the defensive gap, but his side was lacking in midfield control throughout. Schmidt's problems got worse when Hernandez limped out of the game on 56 minutes with a hamstring problem.

A sharp Bremen move, which ended in a tame effort from Bartels, was the away side's best chance of rubber-stamping their spot in the semifinals. But with Leverkusen committed to the equalizer late on, Bremen took advantage. Bartels worked the ball out to Öztunali before the ball fell kindly to Grillitsch, who then tapped it into an empty net with Leno several yards out of position.

After elimination to lower-league sides in each of the last four seasons, Werder Bremen's run to the last-four will be a welcome distraction from a relegation battle in the Bundesliga.