The iconic Max-Morlock-Stadion hosted the only DfB Pokal Round of 16 tie that featured two sides from the 2.Bundesliga. FC Nürnberg welcomed the high-flying Fortuna Düsseldorf this afternoon, however both teams have been on a recent poor run of form. Having lost the Franconian derby to Greuther Fürth last weekend, coach Markus Weinzierl made three changes to the starting line-up. Former Köln and Schalke man Johannes Geis, Valentini, and Daferner replaced Hübner, Möller Daehli and Nischalke. Meanwhile Fortuna called upon the services of Oberdorf, Klarer, Sobottka, Iyoha, while Kownacki returned from his yellow card suspension. On tonight’s cup affair it would take penalties to seperate the two sides with monumental tradition.
It was a relatively scrappy start from both teams as the pre-match nerves started to settle. However, it wasn’t for any lack of trying as the intensity was fierce throughout. Nürnberg posed the greater threat inside the opening 20 minutes. Daferner had an early sight of goal albeit offside, while Castrop’s attempted finish from a Tempelmann cross left a lot to be desired. Fortuna goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeier was pivotal in keeping the hosts scoreless on 26 minutes. A nonchalant yet instinctive tip of the ball onto the upright was enough to spectacularly deny Tempelmann on this occasion.
Kwadwo Duah, who provided the winning goal the last time these sides met, was next to test Kastenmeier on the half hour. Once more, Tempelmann was instrumental in the build-up as he teed up the Ghanaian with a neat flick. As luck would have it, Fortuna made it 1-0 completely against the run of play. A swift counterattack afforded Iyoah space on the left flank. His delightful cross picked out the head of Kownacki who finished beautifully from a central position. You would’ve paid penny for Markus Weinzierl’s thoughts as to how and why his team was behind at the interval.
Weinzierl did make an alteration ahead of the restart – Felix Lohkemper introduced as the more offensive alternative to Nürnberger on the left. It only took 6 minutes of second-half action for Kastenmeier to be tested again. Another Geis freekick found Daferner but he lacked the conviction needed to beat the in-form shot stopper. Düsseldorf continued to threaten on the break – Ao Tanaka inches from doubling the Fortuna lead on 55 minutes. After a tame Rouwen Hennings penalty appeal, Fortuna and Kownacki really ought to have extended their advantage with 20 minutes left to play. The Polish striker shrugged off Geis but failed to beat a brave Vindahl guarding the Nürnberg net.
Former Dortmund and Wolfsburg striker Daniel Ginczek came on as Fortuna pushed for a second goal. By this stage Nürnberg had also made a substitution which included another ex-BVB player in Taylan Duman entering the fray alongside Erik Shuranov. As the clock neared the final minutes it looked as if Nürnberg had run out of ideas – Mats Möller Daehli the final throw of the dice off the bench. How that final die would pay off as Möller Daehli crossed for Duman, whose deflected shot nestled in Kastenmeier’s goal for 1-1.
Extra-time ensued and the hosts were millimetres from flipping the scoreline in their favour. Hendrix’s chipped effort over the onrushing Vindahl cleared off the line by Schalke loanee Florian Flick. Hendrix came close once more before half-time of extra-time – a curling freekick agonisingly cracked off the crossbar. The second 15-minute period coughed up a brief VAR scare for Nürnberg’s flick and a potential handball, but it was waved away after brief consultation. Once more Fortuna’s Hendrix caused chaos with a dead ball delivery – Klarer’s flicked header drew the best save of the night from Vindahl underneath his own crossbar, but it would be ruled offside. There was further drama at the death as Nurnberg were reduced to 10 men. Fortuna’s Niemiec raced through on goal only to be hauled down by Flick who felt he had no choice but to foul cynically. The game would be settled by dreaded spot kicks.
Penalties didn’t come without drama of their own. A surprise came when Düsseldorf keeper Kastenmeier confidently stepped up to smash home his side’s first spot kick. Then Taylan Duman, who scored Nurnberg’s levelling goal in the 93rd minute, seemingly had his penalty saved by Kastenmeier. A VAR review showed the 25-year-old keeper was off his line and a retake was issued. The hosts never looked back from here on out – Vindahl pulled off an incredible stop by sprawling left to deny Fortuna’s fourth penalty taker Niemiec. Nürnberg guaranteeing themselves of a first DfB Pokal quarter-final in 12 years after a victorious (1-1 FT AET) 5-3 penalty shootout.