Duisburg claimed a place in the German Cup final after securing a 2-1 win over opponents Energie Cottbus. The victory makes Duisburg the first second-division club to reach the final since 2004.
After a second goal, Duisburg looked to have sealed victory
Despite being reduced to ten men as their opponents piled on the pressure, Duisburg held out to clinch a win against fellow second-division side Energie Cottbus and a place in the German Cup final.
Hosts Duisburg took the lead on 24 minutes when Cottbus defender Uwe Hünemeier attempted a headed clearance that then deflected off Duisburg's Stefan Maierhofer into the net.
While luck may have been the major factor in the first goal, the second relied on a well-executed break down the right on the 54th minute. Ivica Banovic cut the ball back for Serbian Srdjan Baljak, who slotted the ball home with ease.
A lifeline emerged for Cottbus 12 minutes from time, when Duisburg's Bruno Soares brought down Jules Reimerink in the area.
Cottbus battled their way back into the game and could have equalized near the end
The defender was shown the red card and, from the resulting penalty, Cottbus' Nils Petersen pulled one goal back.
The visitors poured forward and almost equalized twice in injury time, a header from Hünemeier was cleared off the line and Jiayi Shao's follow-up struck the post, but Duisberg clung on to their lead.
Dream becomes reality
Duisburg coach Milan Sasic, who worked as a laborer for three years after arriving in Germany from Croatia in 1991, expressed his delight at having a place in the final.
"After working in construction, I never imagined that something like this," he said. "We have managed to turn our dream into reality and we have taken a giant step."
Duisburg are the first team from the second tier of German football to play in the final since 2004, when underdogs Alemannia Aachen lost 3-2 to top-flight club Werder Bremen.
The side will meet the winners of Wednesday night's semi-final clash between soccer giants Bayern Munich and Schalke on May 24 at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
Author: Richard Connor (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Catherine Bolsover