Freiburg in first German Cup semi-finals

Reuters, BERLIN

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 - Page 18

SC Freiburg staged a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to beat 10-man FSV Mainz 05 3-2 after extra-time on Tuesday to reach the DFB Pokal semi-finals for the first time.

Daniel Caligiuri grabbed a stoppage-time equalizer for the visitors, before scoring the winner in the 108th minute in the all-Bundesliga clash.

“We were not organized at the start and had lots of problems,” Freiburg coach Christian Streich told reporters. “But we fought back with everything we had. Even if we had lost, that would have been a courageous performance. I am glad to coach such a team.”

Freiburg were joined in the last four by VfL Wolfsburg, who ended third-tier Kickers Offenbach’s run with a 2-1 away victory courtesy of second-half goals from Croat Ivica Olic and Dutchman Bas Dost.

Offenbach, who had beaten two Bundesliga teams and a second-tier side in previous rounds without conceding a goal, pulled one back in the 81st minute through Marcel Stadel, but could not find an equalizer, despite piling players forward.

In Mainz, the hosts were looking to repeat their surge to the 2009 semis and made a dream start by scoring twice in the opening four minutes.

Teenager Shawn Parker drilled the ball in from close range after good work on the left wing by Chinedu Ede and Adam Szalai set up Denmark international Niki Zimling for the second goal two minutes later with Freiburg in disarray.

However, the visitors recovered and had two chances of their own late in the first half, including one effort that hit the bar.

With Freiburg forced to plough forward, Mainz looked menacing on the break and Parker twice went close to beating goalkeeper Oliver Baumann.

The home team went down to 10 men after 65 minutes when Zdenek Pospech was sent off for a second booking following a foul on Caligiuri.

Caligiuri, whose brother Marco was playing for Mainz, missed an excellent chance when he failed to connect with the ball in front of goal.

Substitute Ivan Santini cut the deficit with a close-range effort in the 86th minute after Freiburg had again hit the crossbar through Matthias Ginter.

Caligiuri then made amends for his earlier miss, drilling in a penalty deep into stoppage-time to force extra-time.

The same player then notched the third goal to complete a memorable fightback by Freiburg, who hit the woodwork four times in all.

Holders Borussia Dortmund were due to travel to Bayern Munich for a much-anticipated quarter-final yesterday when VfB Stuttgart also faced second-tier VfL Bochum.