In one of the all-time great German Cup games, second-division side Holstein Kiel twice came back to deservedly hand Bayern Munich defeat.
“I don’t think any player, any fan, any person in Kiel will ever forget tonight,” Kiel keeper Ioannis Gelios said afterwards.
It was a cup game that had nearly everything — great goals, comebacks, an underdog narrative, even snow.
At the heart of it was Kiel. The hosts continually looked to play it out from the back. They pressed as a team when told to and were disciplined in defense. They were brave, exciting and had Niklas Süle shouting at his teammates out wide to do more to stop the cross.
All of which made Serge Gnabry’s offside goal — a neat tap-in — all the more undeserved.
“It’s a meter,” cried Werner to the fourth official, his voice full of the unfairness that comes from knowing that despite having video-replay technology in the stadium it’s only from the German Cup Round of 16 onwards that it can be used.
Holstein Kiel is a quaint, small German club on Germany’s north coast. They play second fiddle to the city’s four-time Champions League winning handball team, have kept their marketing in house, and play in a stadium that feels like it’s from a past era of football.
The “Storks” — as they are known for their red socks — also have the youngest coach in the pro game in Germany. Ole Werner, 32, was internally appointed and has Kiel in third in the second division, as the northern side push for another chance at the big time after they lost out in the promotion playoff to Wolfsburg in 2018.
Before the game he was asked about whether he had used Gladbach’s recent win over Bayern as the blueprint for his gameplan.
“Of course we have watched Bayern’s last few games, but it’s one thing to see it, and quite another to do it,” Werner said.
Eight minutes before the break, his side showed they were capable of putting their homework into action. Fin Bartels’ low drive after the former Werder Bremen man had got in behind Bayern’s backline was the goal Kiel deserved. It was also the same goal Bayern have been conceding for weeks.
“This scene has followed us for a while,” Thomas Müller admitted of Fin Bartels’ goal afterwards. “We have to defend it better. We’ve talked about it a lot this season, but we have lots of work to do,” Hansi Flick said of the same scene afterwards.
Leroy Sané’s superb free kick restored the expected order and looked like it was going to be the difference, but Bayern didn’t put the game away. No one had really impressed and Kiel had made this game look like a tough European away game for the defending Bundesliga champions.
As the snow began to swirl, Hansi Flick’s mind appeared to do the same. Without fans — who really were the only thing missing from this cup game — his frustration was plain to hear.
A frustration shout of “My God” came as Serge Gnabry failed to close down space. Bouna Sarr had his name snapped once or twice as the Frenchman endured yet another torrid evening. In fact, Flick was so irritated he even felt it necessary to bring on Robert Lewandowski for the final 15 minutes.
The Pole couldn’t make his mark, but in truth Bayern should have been more concerned about conceding rather than scoring. But they were not. They did not heed Süle’s warning. And defender Hauke Wahl leapt unmarked to awkwardly send the game into extra-time.
In the second 15 minutes Bayern looked more Bayern-like but couldn’t find a way past Gelios.
The snow had picked up. Flick shook his head. Thomas Müller ran his hands through his hair in disbelief. Bayern were going to penalties. Ten immaculate spotkicks later, Gelios made a great save to deny Marc Roca, leaving Fin Bartels to send Manuel Neuer the wrong way and secure an historic win.
All great sides go through rough patches and Bayern are enduring one right now. “This is definitely not the best period for Bayern Munich,” Müller said afterwards.
Now that it’s clear Bayern Munich cannot do it on a cold, snowy night in northern Germany, the real question is how long will this continue.
Bayern Munich out of German Cup after penalty shootout defeat to Holstein Kiel The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.