RB Leipzig booked their ticket to the German Cup final in Berlin with a 3-1 win against spirited second division challengers Hamburg. The favorites rattled the woodwork several times before finding the winning goals.
Hamburger SV 1-3 RB Leipzig
(Jatta 24' — Poulsen 12', Janjicic OG 53', Forsberg 73')
The man of the match, Bakery Jatta, was on the losing side, but there was no doubt which team was strongest over 90 minutes in Hamburg on Tuesday.
First, Yussuf Poulsen reminded Hamburg why every set piece is dangerous against top-flight opponents, mercilessly converting a header from an early corner against some rather slapdash marking.
Moments later, Leipzig could have buried the game with a trio of remarkable chances in the same attack. Poulsen hit the post from around 18 yards, Timo Werner's attempt to follow up from a tight angle was deflected by a defender, and finally Marcel Sabitzer tried to stab it home from point-blank range, only to jam the ball between his foot and the goalpost.
Hamburg's refugee turned powerhouse on the flank, Jatta, scored the goal of the night to level the score. After picking Kevin Kampl's pocket on the wing in Leipzig's half, Jatta looked up and immediately looped a long shot over Peter Gulasci, who had come off his line a little in a bid to offer Kampl a passing option.
Tired legs as luck runs out
The second division hosts put up a fierce fight for much of the match, trying to counterbalance Leipzig's quality with hunger and heart. But it always felt like the clock was working against HSV, and early in the second half, Kampl was able to make amends for his defensive blunder.
Facing a compact Hamburg defense and seemingly with few options, Kampl lofted a pass over the top, releasing Poulsen. The Dane's cutback across the face of goal might have nestled in the net all by itself — and Sabitzer was on hand to make certain anyway — but young defender Vasilije Janjicic turned it into his own goal in his attempt to clear the danger.
Leipzig started stretching their legs in the last half hour, as the effort Hamburg had poured in began to tell. Emil Forsberg became the third Red Bull to hit the woodwork just two minutes before he really put the match to bed, rifling home from the edge of the box.
Leipzig eye first major trophy
Leipzig will seek a first major trophy (not including lower division titles) at the German Cup final on May 25 in Berlin.
Depending on the result of Wednesday's semifinal, Ralf Rangnick's men will face either the most successful German Cup team in history, or the next best. Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen meet on Wednesday. Bremen have lifted the trophy six times, Bayern have won it an incredible 18 times, despite only appearing in the final on 22 occasions.