RB Leipzig were pushed all the way but eventually squeezed past FC Viktoria Köln to progress in the DFB-Pokal, despite finishing the game with ten men.
The hosts were on course for an upset when Timm Golley put them ahead in the first half, only for Yussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsberg to turn things around.
Half-time substitute Marcelo Saracchi was sent off with just under ten minutes remaining, but Jean-Kévin Augustin rounded off the victory in stoppage time.
Golley stuns off-the-pace Leizpig
Unlike the other Bundesliga sides, Leipzig already four games of competitive football this season in the UEFA Europa League. Only Stefan Ilsanker, Diego Demme, Bruma and Augustin retained their places in the side from the draw against CS Universitatea Craiova though. Fourth-tier Viktoria were competing in the Pokal for the fourth time in five years, after winning the Mittelrheinpokal, although they have never beaten a Bundesliga side. They were unbeaten so far in three Regionalliga West matches.
Leipzig were unsurprisingly dominating in the early stages but they failed to test Viktoria goalkeeper Sebastian Patzler early on. Bruma had the opportunity to shoot when found by Bruma but he spent too long on the ball trying to find space to pull the trigger, whilst Forsberg had a shot blocked.
In fact the first clear chance fell the way of the hosts. Daniel Reiche headed a Fabian Baumgärtel free-kick across goal and Felix Backszat went for the spectacular, an overhead kick that went wide of Péter Gulácsi’s goal. Reiche in fact nearly came close to given Leipzig the lead, and he would have been relieved that his clearance of a Forsberg cross did at least go wide of the post.
Viktoria were getting more confident the longer Leipzig didn’t strike, and when Bruma gave the ball away with a back-heel, they pounced. Patrick Koronkiewicz took charge of the ball, running nearly the full length of the pitch on the right. He then crossed in for Golley to score, beating Gulácsi to the ball, with Leipzig’s defence too slow in getting back. Apart from a Bruma volley well off target, they were no scares before the break.
Forsberg hits winner before tense last ten minutes
Ralf Rangnick responded by bringing on Saracchi and Kevin Kampl at the break, and the latter’s free-kick led to an almost instant chance. After it came off a couple of Viktoria heads, Demme found Augustin whose shot was well saved by Patzler at the near post. The keeper came to his side’s rescue against from the corner, this time keeping out a shot from Demme. Saracchi’s first key contribution meanwhile was a vital tackle to dispossess Yves Mfumu in the box at the other end.
Soon after that, Leipzig just about drew level. Patzler did well to save a shot from Bruma, but then Lukas Klostermann on the rebound headed into the post. The ball then fell for Poulsen, whose shot went off Patzler and was cleared, however the officials correctly spotted that the ball had in fact cross the line before the clearance, and the upset for now was on hold.
With a sense of inevitability, the Viktoria resistance began to fall part. Augustin struck an effort into the bar, whilst Forsberg put another over. He then helped to set up what a move he finished, with a good ball to Kampl. He couldn’t find Augustin with his cross but the clearance found Forsberg who fired into the top of the net.
The drama wasn’t over though. A Golley pass allowed Koronkiewicz to break clear, only to be upended just out the box by Saracchi. He was the last man, leaving Martin Petersen little choice but to send off the Leipzig man. Golley’s free-kick went into the wall, but Leipzig had ten minutes to survive a man short.
Smelling blood, Viktoria tried hard for the equaliser. Backszat and Hamza Saghiri free-kicks were dealt with by Gulácsi, but a cross from Tobias Willers, who had previously spent a year with Leipzig, found Backszat, only for Klostermann to get back to block. It wasn’t to be for them, with Augustin, after a superb run down field, made the game safe in stoppage time but his side had more than rode their luck.