Ante Rebic was the hero for Eintracht Frankfurt as his two goals sealed a shock DFB-Pokal final win over Bayern Munich.
His early goal set the tone for the evening, and despite Robert Lewandowski’s equaliser just after the break, Bayern couldn’t push on and Rebic struck again on the counter late on.
Bayern were incorrectly denied a penalty in stoppage time despite the use of VAR, with Mijat Gacinovic scoring on the break just after that to finish the game off.
It is their fifth Pokal triumph, and the first for exactly 30 years, and it is the perfect end to the Niko Kovac-era at the club as he goes on to take charge of Bayern next season.
Final stand for Heynckes against his successor
With the Bundesliga already in the bag, Jupp Heynckes had been looking to sign off his fourth spell in charge of Bayern before retirement by winning their 19th Pokal and 12th double which, incredibly, would also have been their 10th league-and-cup success this century.
There were two changes from the league defeat to VfB Stuttgart, with David Alaba and Javi Martínez starting in place of Rafinha and Corentin Tolisso, but perhaps more importantly, Manuel Neuer and Kingsley Coman were on the bench after long injury lay-offs.
Having lost last year’s final to Borussia Dortmund, Kovac was looking to make amends before replacing Heynckes at Bayern. They made four changes from their final-day defeat to Schalke 04, with David Abraham, Makoto Hasebe, Jonathan de Guzman and the fit-again Rebic the men coming in. Marco Russ, Gelson Fernandes, Gacinovic and Sébastien Haller all made way.
Rebic takes Frankfurt’s chance, Bayern fail to do likewise
Bayern, unsurprisingly, started confidently. An excellent from James Rodríguez nearly paved the way for Joshua Kimmich to get their first effort on goal, but a slightly heavy first touch allowed Lukas Hradecky to claim the ball. The departing Frankfurt keeper could do nothing with a superb Lewandowski free-kick, which rattled the underside of the bar but didn’t get across the line.
Ponderous play on the ball from Thiago and Rodríguez though would cost them dearly. Rebic won the ball off the latter, and he then exchanged passes with Kevin-Prince Boateng before running through on goal and beating Sven Ulreich to give the Eagles a dream start, and make this cup final a very interesting prospect indeed.
Frankfurt had taken their one chance but Bayern were struggling to make of the most of the many they had. Thomas Müller missed a header from a Rodríguez free-kick, ending up shouldering the ball wide, before his own cross was nodded wide off the head of Kimmich. Müller then combined with Ribéry to create an opportunity for Lewandowski, but he failed to hit the target, whilst at least Müller then forced a save out of Hradecky, but the bounce into the ground made it easy enough.
Having done well to hold Bayern at bay, Kovac’s side had another chance to score just before the break, as Marius Wolf headed wide from a Danny da Costa cross, but they will have been very happy with their first half efforts.
Lewandowski brings Bayern level but Rebic strikes again
The players had to wait for the start of the second half as smoke from flares at both ends cleared. The delay didn’t effect Bayern though, who were back level less than ten minutes after the resumption. A perfectly-time ball from Niklas Süle found Kimmich, who pulled the back for Lewandowski to fire in, although it was helped on its way by a deflection off Omar Mascarell.
Frankfurt were put on the back foot by that goal, although Gacinovic made an early contribution to their attacking efforts after replacing Wolf, with his cross put wide by a low volley from Boateng. Bayern looked in control but their second goal wouldn’t come. Lewandowski went over the bar with what was his third free-kick of the evening, whilst a Rodríguez cross come off both Carlos Salcedo and Bayern’s Polish striker.
With ten minutes remaining, there were chances at both ends as a Kimmich corner was headed into the bar by Mats Hummels, the second time the woodwork had been rattled by Bayern. Boateng then launched the ball forward for Rebic on the counter, and he tried to curl it in after cutting inside but saw his shot go wide.
He wouldn’t miss a second time. Boateng won the ball, albeit with an unintentional use of the hand, and da Costa launched it forward. Rebic out-paced Hummels, controlled the ball with his head and hooked it past Ulreich to put Frankfurt ahead again. Felix Zwayer did check with VAR over the handball, but as Boateng clearly hadn’t meant it, the goal stood.
VAR drama before Frankfurt seal a famous victory
Bayern had created little before four minutes were added on, but there was still time for plenty of drama. A Kimmich corner, for which Ulreich had come up, went out to Alaba who put the ball back into the box.
Sandro Wagner, on to try to save this game, had a shot saved by Hradecky however Bayern wanted a penalty when Boateng’s missed his attempt to clear the ball and kicked Martínez instead. VAR became involved and Zwayer eventually had a look on the screen, but decided not to give the spot kick, much to the dismay of the Bayern players.
Frankfurt then added further insult to injury to ruin what was supposed to be Heynckes’s farewell party. Another corner resulted from the save, but it failed to beat the first man and was headed away. Gacinovic charged all the way forward, with Ulreich having still been upfield, and having kept ahead of the chasing defenders, he placed the ball in with the final kick of the game to trigger delirious scenes for Frankfurt.
It was heartbreak for Bayern to miss out, and anger at that late decision to fail to give what should have been a penalty. Frankfurt will not dwell on that, and Kovac signed out with their first significant trophy since the DFB-Pokal final of 1988.