Cologne, Germany. “Berlin! Berlin! Wir fahren nach Berlin!“ sang the Cologne supporters as the clock ticked down with their team 1-0 up against Schalke. “Berlin! Berlin! We’re going to Berlin!“
They had good reason to be confident. The visiting Royal Blues hadn’t found the net in over five hours going into Wednesday’s DFB Pokal second round tie and, despite an attacking line-up, hadn’t really come close here either.
But the Cologne fans had begun their rendition of the German equivalent of “We’re going to Wembley!” too soon. Despite sitting top of Bundesliga 2 and remaining favourites for promotion back to the top flight, all is not well on the banks of the Rhine.
After three games without a win, Cologne owe their status as league leaders more to the weakness of the competition than their own proficiency, and they only had themselves to blame again as centre-back Rafael Czichos handled in the box late on.
Former Tottenham man Nabil Bentaleb converted the penalty to take the game to extra-time and then to penalties where, despite the French-Algerian missing in the shoot-out, Schalke ultimately won 6-5.
But their goal drought from open play now extends to over 500 minutes and questions marks continue to hang over head coach Domenico Tedesco.
The fairy tale ends for Chemie Leipzig
Division five BSG Chemie Leipzig were the lowest-ranked team left in the cup but, having already sensationally knocked out division two Jahn Regensburg in round one, were given no chance by SC Paderborn, also of Bundesliga 2.
Re-founded by supporters following the liquidation of FC Sachsen Leipzig, the modern Chemie have climbed from the bottom tier of German football to the fifth-tier Oberliga and qualified for the cup after winning the regional Saxony state cup.
After the German FA refused to bring the game forward to an afternoon kick-off, the club was forced to install mobile floodlights at the 98-year-old Alfred-Kunze-Sportpark for the first ever time at a cost of over €100,000.
Unfortunately, in the build-up to the opening goal, Chemie keeper Julien Latendresse-Levesque was blinded by the low glare of the lights which had been imported from Bolton, which is twinned with, ironically, Paderborn.
Chemie went on to lose 3-0, but it didn’t stop 4,999 supporters from generating an electric atmosphere and proving that football can exist in Leipzig without energy drink brands.
Union Berlin take Borussia Dortmund to extra-time – again
For the second time in two years, Union Berlin travelled to the Westfalenstadion in the second round of the cup. And for the second time in two years, backed by a huge, red-clad travelling support, the second-division outfit matched for Bundesliga leaders for over 90 minutes.
In 2016, Dortmund needed penalties to see off the Berliners. This time, they only needed one, although captain Marco Reus’ spot-kick in the 120th minute was just as late.
Hansa Rostock bow out on penalties
An eventful day on the Baltic coast began early when 330 visiting Nuremberg ultras, backed by friends from Rapid Vienna, arrived earlier than expected and proceeded to attack their Hansa Rostock counterparts. One police officer even fired a warning shot into the air to break up the brawl.
After disposing of VfB Stuttgart in round one amid a ferocious atmosphere, third-division Hansa were confident of another cup upset and took the lead twice against the newly-promoted Bundesliga side.
But the visitors from Franconia hit back twice before progressing on penalties, ending Hansa’s valiant cup adventure.
Thiago injured as Bayern scrape through
After beating amateurs SV Drochtersen/Assel 1-0 in the first round, Bayern Munich scraped past another fourth-tier opponent in the second round, beating SV Rödinghausen 2-1 thanks to Sandro Wagner’s opener and Thomas Müller’s penalty.
Niko Kovac’s side have now won four on the bounce since their mini-crisis earlier this month, but they’re still far from convincing. A difficult evening in the cup was made even worse when a bad tackle left Thiago Alcantara with ligament damage in his ankle. The Spaniard will be out for several weeks.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 0-5 Bayer Leverkusen
Red Bull Leipzig 2-0 Hoffenheim
Augsburg 3-2 Mainz
Holstein Kiel 2-1 Freiburg
Hannover 0-2 Wolfsburg
Darmstadt 0-2 Hertha Berlin
Flensburg 1-5 Werder Bremen
SSV Ulm 1-5 Fortuna Düsseldorf
Bielefeld 0-3 Duisburg
Wehen Wiesbaden 0-3 Hamburg
Heidenheim 3-0 Sandhausen