Ten-man Bayern overcome battling FC Heidenheim in nine-goal Pokal thriller

Facing second division FC Heidenheim in the quarter-final of the DFB-Pokal, fans of FC Bayern München expected a goal fest. What they did not expect was that the visitors would score four in a nail-biting nine-goal thriller, a game that showed just why the cup is so special.

Niko Kovač’s side were reduced to ten men inside the first quarter of an hour, went behind before surging in front again, and had to ensure a torrid late onslaught. With extra time looming, Robert Lewandowski came off the bench to finally settle the issue.

Three changes, and an early lead

The Bayern coach made three changes to the team that had drawn 1:1 in Freiburg. The defensive merry-go-round continued with Jérôme Boateng was replaced by Mats Hummels, while Kingsley Coman and top scorer Robert Lewandowski made way for Serge Gnabry and Franck Ribéry.

With goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer still unable to start, Sven Ulreich lined up between the sticks. As in Freiburg, the side was led out in front of a capacity crowd by Thomas Müller.

As expected, Bayern were quick off the blocks. If the plan was to dominate the opposition, the start was to close to perfect. A Gnabry attack was quelled, before Mats Hummels headed over from six yards after eight minutes.

The home supporters did not have to wait long for the breakthrough. From a Joshua Kimmich corner in the twelfth minute, Leon Goretzka rose unhindered to head the ball past FCH ‘keeper Kevin Müller. For many inside the ground, it was a simple a matter of how many Die Roten wanted to score.

Süle VAR-ed, Heidenheim strike back

The scene was perfectly set for the Bavarians, but just moments after Goretzka’s goal the game was suddenly turned on its head. Again, Kovač’s men had themselves to blame.

A poor back-pass from Thiago Alcântara was chased down by Robert Andrich, and Niklas Süle’s challenge at the edge of the box was a mix of clumsiness and desperation. Referee Guido Winkmann flashed the yellow card, but then went to consult with the video assistant.

After consulting the replay, Herr Winkmann made his decision. He reached for his back pocket, and Süle was off. It was a close-run thing. For some, the big centre-back was the last man. For others, Joshua Kimmich would have made it back in time to provide cover.

The coach brought Boateng off the bench to patch up the defensive line, sacrificing a very displeased Ribéry. It only encouraged the visitors. Against the run of play after 27 minutes, they equalised. Skipper Marc Schnatterer’s cross was floated into the Bayern box, and striker Robert Glatzel headed home.

It got worse. Six minutes before half-time, Sebastian Griesbeck found Schnatterer, who was able to get away from an absent minded Rafinha. Heidenheim’s Fussballgott made no mistake, sending the ball past Ulreich. Against the odds, the underdogs were in front.

Three goals in twelve minutes

There would have been some very strong words in the Bavarian dressing room, and Kovač was quick to adjust his strategy at the start of the second half. The out of sorts Rafinha made way for Kingsley Coman, while the desperately disappointing James Rodríguez was was subbed out for an extra special Joker in Lewandowski.

The changes were just the shot in the arm the ten men needed. A free-flowing move initiated by Kimmich was engineered by Goretzka and Lewandowski, and the Pole’s assist was smartly finish by a twisting Thomas Müller after 53 minutes. Two minutes later Tommy returned the favour. In the merest blink of an eye, Bayern were back in front again.

Ten minutes later, a corner was nodded on by Hummels, and finished by the in-form Gnabry. The offside flag went up, but this time VAR was on Bayern’s side. The goal stood. Ten men or not, they had surely settled the issue.

But this is the DFB-Pokal, where the lesser teams are willing to throw everything at their bigger opponents.

A tale of two Roberts

Bayern should have had an easy run to the finish, Heidenheim were not quite done. A poor header from Müller was gobbled up by sub Maurice Multhaup, whose smart pass was finished by Glatzer. Bayern had bossed the possession and had created more opportunities, but were once again punished for their slack play.

Two minutes later, the slippery Multhaup was felled in the box by a clumsy Hummels. Referee Winkmann had no hesitation. Penalty. More madness.

In what was arguably the best moment of the game for the neutral, Glatzel did more than just keep his nerve. In a story that he will surely dine on for years, the 25-year-old executed the perfect Panenka to draw his team level. After 75 minutes, it had been all over. Two minutes later, it was back in the balance again at 4:4.

Bayern were reeling, and it would take a stunning save from Ulreich to deny Denis Thomalla in the 81st minute. Just moments earlier, Gnabry had clattered the Aluminium with a stunning effort. It had all the hallmarks of a classic cup tie.

If the game was crazy, its ending was clinical and calm. When Heidenheim centre-back Marnon Busch was penalised for a handball in the penalty area, Lewandowski ended the shenanigans with some good old-fashioned Polish precision.

Bayern are through to the last four, joining Hamburger SV, RB Leipzig, and Werder Bremen. Next up, the big one. Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, at the Allianz Arena. Who is saying that German domestic football is dull and boring?

Statistical Summary

FC Bayern München – 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 5:4 (1:2)
Goretzka 12., Müller 53., Lewandowski 55., pen 84., Gnabry 65. / Glatzel 26., 74., 77., Schnatterer 39.

FC Bayern: Ulreich – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Rafinha (46. Coman) – Thiago – James (46. Lewandowski), Goretzka – Gnabry, Ribéry (24. Boateng) – Müller

Heidenheim: K. Müller – Busch, Mainka, Beermann, Theuerkauf (73. Thomalla) – Dorsch (52. Feick) – Griesbeck, Andrich – Schnatterer (c) (66. Multhaup), Dovedan – Glatzel

Referee: Guido Winkmann (Kerken)
Attendance: 75,000

Yellow Cards: Lewandowski 86. / Dorsch 40., Griesbeck 90.+1., Beermann 90.+1.
Red Cards: Süle 15. / –

Shots: 17 / 11
Passes: 662 / 315
Completed Passes: 584 / 237
Pass Success: 88% / 75%
Possession: 68% / 32%
Fouls: 9 / 15
Offsides: 2 / 1
Corners: 9 / 2