No final cup for Klopp as Wolfsburg defeat Dortmund to win DFB Pokal
Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp’s reign ended in disappointment, as Wolfsburg ran out deserved 3-1 winners in a thrilling DFB Pokal final, despite the Yellow-Blacks taking an early lead.
When energetic forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang volleyed home Shinji Kagawa’s lovely lofted pass in the fifth minute, the script looked set for Klopp, and the legions of travelling Dortmund fans adorned in yellow, to say goodbye in style.
The Westfalenstadion side certainly began as the brightest team in Berlin, emboldened by Aubameyang’s opener. However, after an off-colour Marco Reus then squandered a chance to make it 2-0, skying a simple shot over the crossbar, Die Wolfe seized the game by the scruff of the neck and never looked back.
Brazil and former Bayern Munich midfield shield Luis Gustavo was the surprise protagonist, lashing home the equaliser from close range around the 21st minute mark, after Naldo’s stinging free kick was pushed into his path by Austrian stopper Mitchell Langerak.
Soon after, star playmaker Kevin De Bruyne swung the balance even further in Wolfsburg’s favour, after Dutch dangerman Bas Dost’s clever knock-down found the brilliant Belgian in acres of space.
De Bruyne duly smashed a low shot through Mats Hummel’s legs and into the low left hand corner, easily beating Langerak who was slow to react, to cap off a sensational individual campaign.
Dost then turned goal hero himself, exploiting Dortmund’s dismal defending, as the Clockwork Orange international’s pinpoint header made it 3-1. It was fine work down the right flank by former Klopp capture Ivan Perisic that unlocked the backline, but Neven Subotic was nowhere near dangerous Dost when the cross came in.
Just before the break Aubameyang had a penalty shout, after full back Ricardo Rodriguez bundled the striker over in the box, waved away, and Dortmund clearly had a mountain to climb.
Die Wolfe smelt blood and began the second half in the same swashbuckling fashion, carving open their opponents with ease, as Sebastian Kehl and Ilkay Gundogan struggled to protect the defence.
Erik Durm’s wayward block, following a sublime ball from De Bruyne, allowed Daniel Caligiuri to pounce, though Langerak was equal to his shot and saved the Yellow-Blacks from further blushes.
Hummels, who looked the most likely for Dortmund to pick out a defence-splitting pass, found Reus on the wing, and the Germany wideman stretched to send a cross in for Kagawa, but the Japan icon could not connect and the 49th minute chance was wasted.
Dortmund notably improved after Klopp shored up the side with substitutes Jakub Blaszczykowsk and Lukasz Piszczek, who added grit to the guile, and a welcome dose of urgency into proceedings.
Kagawa almost clawed his club back into the game in the 79th minute after finding space to thread a shot through a crowded Die Wolfe box, but keeper Diego Benaglio pulled off a top class save to deny the midfield schemer.
When left back Marcel Schmelzer then had a late penalty claim dismissed, after substitute Andre Schurrle looked to have fouled the onrushing defender, departing coach Klopp must have known it was not to be his day.
As the innovative tactician, wearing his trademark yellow cap for the final time, congratulated Wolfsburg players and trudged up to collect his runners-up medal, the dramatic switch in German footballing power from Dortmund to Die Wolfe could not have been more apparent.
Now Wolfsburg, DFB Pokal winners for the first time in their history, must bear the challenge of jostling Bayern Munich for Bundesliga rewards, while the Yellow-Blacks look to rebuild and begin a new era under Thomas Tuchel.