Four teams have booked their tickets to the German Cup quarterfinals, but Schalke did not make the grade. Hoffenheim provided the upset of the night with three first-half goals. Kaiserslautern flew the lower-league flag.
Hoffenheim's opening goal against Schalke on Tuesday night was really a Kai Herdling cross that nobody reached - including Ralf Fährmann in the home side's goal. The strike might have been out of the ordinary, but it was coming, as Hoffenheim proved by stretching their lead to 3-0 before the break.
Kevin Volland rounded off an excellent team counterattack to double the lead. Brazilian Roberto Firmino all-but buried Schalke after just 35 minutes courtesy of a Sebastian Rudy assist.
Schalke improved, if only by default, in the second period and an early chance for Benedikt Höwedes might have helped turn the match. Ultimately the Royal Blues only pulled one back on 67 minutes, as Jefferson Farfan stroked one home in style with his weaker left foot. Hoffenheim's habit of leaking goals prompted some hope in the Veltins-Arena, but Markus Gisdol's side held on to the lead.
2011 German Cup champions Schalke, who've not made it to the quarterfinals since winning the competition, host Basel in the Champions League midweek, seeking to keep at least one cup campaign alive.
Dortmund's deputies do their job
Injury-stricken or no, Dortmund were favorites against third-tier Saarbrücken in the other late game. Nuri Sahin wished his colleagues good luck on Twitter as the game kicked off, posting a photo of him sat with other absentees Marco Reus, Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer.
Jonas Hofmann and Julian Schieber, neither of them first-choice players with Dortmund at full strength, did the damage on the night.
Schieber headed home a Hofmann cross to open the scoring and was perhaps unlucky that a second headed goal was disallowed for a slight push against his marker. In the second half, Schieber returned Hofmann's favor, delivering an excellent cross after some persistent work in the Saarbrücken box.
Apart from a shot that grazed the outside of the post late in the first half, the hosts struggled to assert themselves against the Champions League runners-up.
Courageous Cologne frustrated
Second-division leaders Cologne showed why they aspire for promotion to the top flight on Tuesday night, but still lost to Hamburg on their journey north.
Despite dominating much of the first period, Cologne conceded on the stroke of halftime. Maximilian Beister delivered a spectacular volley, exhibiting exactly the quality Patrick Helmes and Co. struggled to provide in front of the other goal.
Cologne equalized after the restart, capitalizing on one of a string of blunders by central defender Johan Djourou. Adam Matuschyk dispossessed the defender, made his way into the box and bundled the ball under goalie Rene Adler.
Hamburg hit the winning goal with about five minutes remaining, thanks to a fair slice of luck. Milan Badelj's initial shot took a big deflection and the ball bounced straight into the path of unmarked sub Ivo Ilicevic, who made no mistake with his left.
Berlin's bane, Kaiserslautern
Kaiserslautern, meanwhile, flew the second division flag - beating their league rivals Union Berlin 3-0 in their backyard. Having surprisingly ousted Hertha Berlin in the last round, the "Red Devils" single-handedly dashed the hopes of fans in the German capital.
The next "DFB Pokal" match to be played in Berlin will therefore be the final on May 17, 2014.
Willi Orban, often a defender for Kaiserslautern, provided real attacking impetus in midfield with his physical frame, scoring the opening goal with his head and setting up the second by flicking on a corner. Simon Zoller got the decisive touch for the second 'Lautern goal, and substitute Marc Gaus put the result beyond any doubt after 83 minutes.
Bayer Leverkusen travel to Freiburg, Bayern Munich visit Augsburg, Wolfsburg entertain second-division Ingolstadt and Eintracht Frankfurt host Sandhausen in Wednesday's German Cup games.