Bayern Munich have obliterated Wolfsburg 6-1 to make the German Cup final, with star showings from Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Gomez both. The disgruntled second-string substitute striker hit a nine-minute hat trick.
Coach Jupp Heynckes' Bayern eased by Wolfsburg with perhaps a slightly flattering 6-1 scoreline in the German Cup semifinals on Tuesday, courtesy of a late collapse and a couple of mistakes from visitors Wolfsburg. The Wolves' coach Dieter Hecking had told Sky Germany before the game that "there are simply no weaknesses at Bayern Munich;" he was proven prophetic.
Two second-choice stars in the Bundesliga champions' ranks did the damage on the night.
Xherdan Shaqiri was given another start in the suspended Franck Ribery's stead and put his stamp on the first half. The Swiss winger set Bayern's opener in motion after 17 minutes with a through ball to Arjen Robben on the right flank. Robben's low cross found ex-Wolfsburg front-man Mario Mandzukic in the middle; he cracked it into the roof of Diego Benaglio's net.
Just under 20 minutes later, with the interim including some strong Wolfsburg scenes, Shaqiri punished Alexander Madlung for a wayward pass in his own half. The Swiss youngster intercepted, took a couple of touches to open up an angle, and then released Arjen Robben down the inside-right for a calm finish.
A ray of false hope
Wolfsburg could count themselves unfortunate to be trailing by two as the break approached, and with seconds left in the first period, they grabbed a lifeline.
Diego pulled one back in style with a cracking right-footed distance shot that left Manuel Neuer helpless between the Bayern sticks.
Helplessness became a familiar feeling for Wolfsburg's goalie and captain Diego Benaglio, who didn't save a single shot all night.
Shaqiri added a goal of his own early in the second half, hitting home a clever corner routine with a shot from just outside the area. The low ball caught the guests napping, and probably should not have been allowed to reach its recipient.
Six-minute hat trick for sub Gomez
With 77 minutes played, disgruntled second choice striker Mario Gomez entered the fray for Mandzukic - and a mere nine minutes later, the German international had hit a hat trick. The goals themselves were separated by just six minutes as Gomez ensured that the incessant transfer rumors surrounding him would be replaced by different back-page headlines for at least one day.
Bastian Schweinsteiger set up a pair of Gomez's goals - all tidy finishes from close in against a deflated Wolfsburg. Gomez's rival for man of the match Shaqiri, who had more minutes in which to impress, created the other, with another error from the unfortunate Madlung making Bayern's fourth goal the easiest of them all.
Bayern will face either Stuttgart or Freiburg, who meet in the second semi on Wednesday, in the final in Berlin on June 1. Whichever side wins that game is guaranteed a place in the Europa League next season, a particularly large incentive for Stuttgart who almost certainly will not qualify for Europe via the Bundesliga.
As Bundesliga champions, Bayern have already booked their place in the Champions League next season. But for now this year's campaign for four titles continues.