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Leverkusen beat Mainz to advance to German Cup final

Bayer Leverkusen needed extra-time before eventually running out 4-1 winners against second division Mainz 05 in the first German Cup semifinal.

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Leverkusen's Karim Haggui, left, and Aristide Bance of Mainz challenge for the ball

The victory books Leverkusen's third berth in the cup final, where the club will face either Hamburg or Werder Bremen, who meet in the other semifinal this Wednesday.

Winning the cup would go a long way towards salvaging a disappointing season for Leverkusen and could even save coach Bruno Labbadia's job.

The match at the LTU Arena in Dusseldorf, where Leverkusen currently play their home games, finished level at 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes but goals from Arturo Vidal, Simon Rolfes and Michal Kadlec secured what turned out be an easy win for the Bundesliga side in extra time.

Although Leverkusen dominated throughout, the Mainz defence remained resolute and it took a piece of opportunism from substitute Angelos Charisteas eight minutes from time to break the deadlock.

The Greek striker put himself in the right place at the right time, stabbing home from four metres after Mainz goalkeeper Dimo Wache could only parry Renato Augusto's strike from the edge of the area.

Mainz managed to even the score one minute from the end of regulation time when Charisteas, lying in they area after taking a knock, played Aristide Bance onside when the Burkina Faso forward headed in a cross from Milorad Pekovic.

However, Leverkusen quickly wrestled control of the match two minutes into the first period of extra time with a goal from Vidal before further strikes from Rolfes and Kadlec ensured a comfortable win and a place in the final in Berlin on May 30.

Epic rivalry

Werder Bremens Diego

Diego will be back in action against Hamburg


The other finalist is to be determined when Bremen travel to Hamburg on Wednesday.

This is the first of a four-game series between the northern German rivals - with a UEFA Cup semifinal tie and a league match to follow later in April and in May.

Bremen, who have slipped down to 10th in the Bundesliga table, have been on cruise control in the Bundesliga. But it will be a different story in the two cup competitions, with titles and a spot in international competition up for grabs.

Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese has promised his side will try to "get on Hamburg's nerves" and win all four matches.

The visitors are to be bolstered by the return of superstar playmaker Diego who was rested with a perhaps fictional injury in the league last weekend.

Hamburg, meanwhile, are third in the league and have an outside shot at doing the triple. But they should beware, if they think they're bound to be victorious in something.

Back in 2002, Leverkusen had a chance to win the Bundesliga, the German Cup and the Champions League - only to emerge, in the end, empty-handed.

Author: Jefferson Chase

Editor: Trinity Hartman

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