RB Leipzig are into the DFB-Pokal final for the third time in four years after a dramatic stoppage-time header from Emil Forsberg sealed a 2-1 comeback win over Union Berlin.
For a while, Union themselves looked on course for next month’s final after taking a 25th-minute lead, but Leipzig fought back in the second half and sealed progress at the death.
During a first half of few chances, Union proved the more clinical as Sheraldo Becker guided home impressively on the break.
But there were warning signs from a Leipzig side that dominated possession and parity was restored by an Andre Silva penalty in the 61st minute, and just when extra time seemed to beckon, Forsberg nodded in to spark bedlam in the Red Bull Arena.
As tight as the early exchanges were, Union looked good value for their 25th-minute lead, as Becker met Christopher Trimmel’s brilliant right-wing cross at the back post with a composed first-time finish across goal.
Leipzig should have levelled eight minutes before the break, but Silva shot wide from 14 yards when teed up perfectly by Benjamin Henrichs at the end of a flowing move.
The hosts then got lucky just before the hour, as Taiwo Awoniyi stumbled at the crucial moment when seemingly destined to turn in Becker’s pass, and Leipzig capitalised soon after.
Paul Jaeckel clumsily tripped Christopher Nkunku in the box and Silva emphatically picked out the top-right corner with his spot-kick.
Leipzig’s desperate late flurry looked as though it would be fruitless, but Henrichs whipped an inviting left-footed cross in from the right and Forsberg rose from the crowd to head into the top corner.
What does it mean? Tedesco has Leipzig on the edge of a new frontier
It might sound surprising given Leipzig have emerged as one of the Bundesliga’s most consistent clubs since their promotion in 2016, but they do not have a major trophy to their name – even their ascension to the top flight came as runners-up.
They came close to Pokal success in 2019 and again last year but lost out to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, respectively, in those finals. This time they will undoubtedly be favourites.
Their final opponents, Freiburg, have enjoyed a remarkable campaign, but Leipzig will be fancied by most to finally claim their first major trophy, even if most of German football will be rooting against Domenico Tedesco’s men.
Orban reliable as ever
Forsberg will get the plaudits, but Leipzig’s dominance would not have been possible without Willi Orban providing a calming presence at the back. Union’s dynamic front two caused problems, but Orban was solid, winning a match-high 13 duels (out of 15) and 10 of 12 aerials. His 10 clearances were also more than anyone else.
Frustration for Awoniyi
As lively as the Union forward was, Awoniyi will be frustrated with his day, particularly when he stumbled while trying to turn in Becker’s pass. He finished with 0.65 expected goals (xG), second only to Silva – the penalty obviously helping his figures – but could not find the target.
Freiburg await in the final on May 21 for Leipzig, but first they will hope to seal Champions League football via the Bundesliga.Start slideshow