The German Cup quarterfinals got going with a bang - when Mainz scored twice within four minutes against Freiburg. The visitors scored two of their own in the last 10 minutes, though, and finished the job in extra time.
Freiburg's dreams of reaching their first ever German Cup semifinal appeared dead within the first five minutes in Mainz on Tuesday.
Teen forward Shawn Parker, back from his Bundesliga suspension at the weekend, opened the scoring in just the second minute from a cross by Chinedu Ede. His powerful right-footer was unstoppable.
Barely two minutes after this, Mainz doubled their money. Niki Zimling's shot from the edge of the box went between a defender's legs and found its way into the bottom corner of furious Freiburg keeper Oliver Baumann's goal.
As goalie Baumann gesticulated madly, Freiburg's always animated coach Christian Streich immediately ordered first choice right-midfielder Jonathan Schmid - who was unusually on the bench - to start warming up. Schmid replaced 21-year-old midfielder Veggar Eggen Hedenstad in just the 13th minute.
Freiburg's play stabilized after the horror opening, but the early change did not yield immediate results. When the two teams went in at half time with the score still 2-0, Mainz still seemed the slightly better side on the ball.
Two early, one short, two late
The real turning point for Freiburg came in the 65th minute when Mainz right-back Zdenek Pospech was sent off for his second bookable offence. Mainz were forced to replace goalscorer Parker with defender Junior Diaz to try to hold on to their lead.
Freiburg began to pile on the pressure, with Streich bringing on two out-and-out strikers in Karim Guede and Ivan Santini with his final two substitutions. By the last ten minutes, central defender Pavel Krmas had joined in at the sharp end as well.
Freiburg rattled the frame of the goal tended by second-string Mainz keeper Heinz Müller on several occasions in the game. The first goal fell in a spectacular period of play after 85 minutes. Seconds after Santini had struck the crossbar, Matthias Ginter rifled a low shot against the Mainz post instead. The ball rebounded behind a stricken Müller, and Santini was able to knock it home from close in.
Two minutes into stoppage time, seconds after Krmas had tickled the crossbar, the makeshift forward went down under a challenge from Mainz captain Radoslav Zabavnik. The referee Deniz Aytekin pointed to the spot in a decision that was at least debatable.
Daniel Caligiuri rifled the spot kick home to tie the game and send it into extra time. Caligiuri, playing against his brother Marco who subbed in for Mainz in the second half, turned the game altogether in stoppage time as 10-man Mainz tired. Caligiuri could have followed his second goal, scored on 108 minutes after slick work from from Guede and Max Kruse, only seconds later but missed the target on the break.
As Mainz were forced to push forward, gaping holes appeared in the hosts' back line. In the closing minutes, Müller saved three consecutive one-on-ones to keep the game theoretically alive for the understaffed hosts - but they never really looked like equalizing at the other end.
No upset from brave Kickers in Offenbach
In the later German Cup quarterfinal, Wolfsburg managed to roll over third-tier team Kickers Offenbach by a score of 2-1.
The Bundesliga giants dominated possession throughout, but their resilient hosts put up a stern fight and carved out several chances of their own.
Wolfsburg couldn't break the deadlock until the second half, with Ivica Olic putting the favorites on the scoresheet in the 49th minute, bundling home a Makoto Hasebe cross from close in. The second Wolfsburg goal was a well worked one, as Rapahel Schäfer crossed low for striker Bas Dost to smash it home with his right.
With about 10 minutes to play, Offenbach reawoke their dreams of an upset. A long Stefan Vogler free kick found its way to Marcel Stader's feet in the penalty area - he controlled and finished well against a rather disjointed set of Wolfsburg markers. Offenbach didn't really threaten to tie the game in the closing minutes though, and their spectacular cup run ended two matches short of glory.
Stuttgart host second division Bochum in the third German Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday. The later game is the pick of the bunch, however, Cup holders Borussia Dortmund travel to the Allianzarena to face Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.