Bayern Munich have knocked RB Leipzig out of the German Cup, and are through to the third round. But that is not even a tenth of the story.
After Naby Keita was sent off early in the second half, a heated game turned into a ferocious, epic scrap. Leipzig, somehow, managed to survive a full 120 minutes.
Only then, under that horrendous twelve yard torture, did their will buckle. Timo Werner, so often the hero in recent months, fluffed his lines in the shootout, and it was all for nothing.
Bayern Munich celebrated a dramatic victory over RB Leipzig to progress in the cup
The visitors were taken to extra time and spot kicks but eventually prevailed
Timo Werner (left) saw his penalty saved by Sven Ulreich which decided the match
The Bayern players mobbed their goalkeeper who was the hero and helped his side progress
It was everything you could ask for from a cup tie between two title challengers. There were handbags, penalty appeals, and a delightfully poisonous atmosphere as the two teams tore into each other. There was even some good football.
If Leipzig do manage to challenge Bayern consistently over the next few years, this game may go down in history as the inauguration of a bitter rivalry.
Keita’s sending off tipped the balance away from Leipzig in the second half, and Bayern should have run away with it. But Leipzig fought. How they fought. Having twice capitulated against Bayern last season, they were simply determined not to do so again.
Bernardo denied the champions early on with a clearance just yards from the goal line, but it was Leipzig who had the better chances before the break. Both Emil Forsberg and Jean-Kevin Augustin were allowed space in the box, only to be denied by goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.
Bayern, clearly, are still some way from their smooth, clinical best. The hangover from the last, unhappy days under Carlo Ancelotti was still there in misplaced passes, defensive errors and reckless fouls.
Emil Forsberg converted a spot kick to give RB Leipzig a 1-0 lead in the German Cup
The home players celebrated and were joined by the team mascot in an embrace
Thiago Alcantara headed the visitors level as the numerical superiority told
Alcantara wheeled away in celebration and collected the ball, hurrying up his team-mates
Naby Keita (left) was given two yellow cards and the hosts were reduced to ten men
All of which is to take nothing from Leipzig. Their energetic pressing had been too much for Borussia Dortmund and Porto in recent weeks, and it thoroughly unsettled Bayern here.
On 34 minutes, Vidal pulled out an ugly foul even by his standards, scissoring Forsberg to the ground on the edge of the penalty area to earn a yellow card. Having initially awarded a penalty, the referee correctly revised his decision to give Forsberg a free-kick, which skimmed the bar.
Furious at the perceived injustice, Leipzig’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick came to give the referee a piece of his mind at half-time, scuffling with Bayern players as he did so. The home fans, meanwhile, were caught somewhere between fury and excitement. Indignant at Bayern’s aggression, they also suspected that their team could win the game.
Robert Lewandowski looks to hold up the ball with his powerful frame under pressure
Yussuf Poulsen (right) manages to out-jump defender Mats Hummels in an aerial duel
Five minutes into the second half, the temperature got even higher. The referee, already unpopular among the Leipzig faithful, correctly waved away appeals for a penalty after Boateng tackled Augustin in the box.
Minutes later, the cauldron boiled over. Keita, who had been booked for a late challenge on Thiago in the first half, tugged at Robert Lewandowski’s shirt as Bayern broke away on the left, and was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Even with an extra man, though, Bayern struggled to take the initiative. Only 15 minutes after the red card did Lewandowski manage to find space in front of goal, fizzing the ball wide of the far post.
Ferdandes da Silva (left) heads the ball away as Kingsley Coman watches on
Jean-Kevin Augustin takes a touch before assessing his options for the hosts
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS:
Peter Gulacsi 7, Bernardo 8, Willi Orban 7, Dayot Upamecano, Marcel Halstenberg, Kevin Kampl, Naby Keita 6, Marcel Sabitzer 7, Emil Forsberg 8, Yussuf Poulsen 7,Jean-Kevin Augustin 6
Denne 7, Kaiser, Klostermann, Konate, Laimer, Mvogo, Werner 6
Penalties: Bernardo, Kampl, Halstenberg, Orban
Bookings: Naby Keita x2
Sven Ulreich 7, Joshua Kimmich 6, Jerome Boateng 5, Mats Hummels 7, David Alaba 6, Corentin Tolisso 5, Arturo Vidal 6, Arjen Robben 6, Thiago Alcantara 7, Kingsley Coman 6, Robert Lewandowski 6
Rafinha 6, Friedl, Martinez 6, Rudy 7, Stark, Sule, Wriedt
Kimmich, Alcantara, Boateng, Vidal
Penalties: Lewandowski, Alaba, Hummels, Rudy, Robben
With 67 minutes played, they paid for their wastefulness. Boateng’s trip on Yussuf Poulsen was, like Vidal’s earlier foul, just on the edge of the box, but this time the referee awarded a penalty. Forsberg converted. Leipzig were ahead.
It couldn’t last. Five minutes later, Boateng chipped a dainty ball over the back line and Thiago headed in the equaliser.
This time, though, Leipzig weren’t going to capitulate. Bayern huffed and puffed, as Gulacsi and Bernardo teamed up to deny Thiago and Lewandowski. Through sheer force of will and Bayern’s sluggishness, Leipzig pushed the game into extra time.
Gulacsi would shine again after the break, pulling off a brilliant double save on 100 minutes to keep his side level.
Minutes later, he was saved by the bar, and then by good fortune as Lewandowski skied a volley from 12 yards. Bayern were still huffing and puffing, but the walls were creaking.
The walls of the stadium very nearly crumbled when Timo Werner found the net in the 115th minute, the crowd realising too late that he had been ruled offside.
Werner would end up as the tragic figure, his weak penalty easily saved by Ulreich to win the shootout for Bayern. But then, every epic needs an element of tragedy.
There will an epilogue to this epic. On Saturday, Leipzig and Bayern meet again, this time in a league fixture at the Allianz Arena.
The stakes will be lower, but the emotional and physical bruises of Wednesday night will still be sore. Expect fireworks.
Poulsen lies in a heap as Arjen Robben contests the decision given by the referee
Emil Forsberg is tackled aggressively by Bayern’s combative midfielder Arturo Vidal
Augustin lets fly as the hosts work an opportunity against Jupp Heynckes’ side