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18th cup triumph

FCB seal 11th double in shootout drama

Bayern are the 2015/16 DFB Cup winners! The German champions completed their 11th domestic double on Saturday thanks to a dramatic 4-3 penalty shootout victory over arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund after Saturday’s tense and hotly-contested final ended goalless following 120 minutes of normal and extra time.

The 74,322 full house at Berlin’s venerable Olympiastadion saw a closely-fought first half between two tactically disciplined and initially cautious sides, with the best of the scarce chances falling to Thomas Müller. The game sprang to life after the break but for all Bayern’s dominance there was still no score at the end of normal or extra time, with the Reds showing nerves of steel to prevail in the ensuing shootout, the honour of tucking away the winning penalty falling to Douglas Costa.

The victory, a record 18th cup triumph for the Bavarians from 21 appearances in the final, means the Pep Guardiola era at FCB ends with yet another trophy. The Reds will sign off for the summer on a high by parading the glittering golden cup to their fans in Munich on Sunday.

Joshua starts, Alonso on the bench

For his final match as FCB coach, boss Guardiola made three changes to the team that saw off Hannover on the last day of the Bundesliga season. Costa, Joshua Kimmich and Müller came into the line-up for Mario Götze (broken ribs), Mehdi Benatia and Kingsley Coman, with Xabi Alonso back in the squad after injury and joining the Moroccan and the Frenchman on the bench.

It meant Munich began with Manuel Neuer in goal, David Alaba, Kimmich, Jerome Boateng and skipper Philipp Lahm in the back four, Arturo Vidal and Thiago in central midfield, Douglas Costa and Franck Ribery out wide, and Müller alongside Robert Lewandowski up front.

BVB’s Thomas Tuchel was without injured playmaker Ilkay Gündogan but the Bundesliga’s best-ever runners-up still oozed quality with the likes of Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and FCB-bound captain Mats Hummels.

Intense tactical battle

After referee Marco Fritz whistled play underway on a warm evening in the German capital, Müller gave early notice of intent with a 25-yard drive that whistled just inches over Dortmund keeper Roman Bürki’s crossbar, but otherwise the early exchanges were characterised by an intense tactical skirmish so typical of recent encounters between the teams.

Guardiola’s troops upped the pressure midway through the half as Müller bulleted a header narrowly wide from Costa’s corner, and although Kimmich made an important tackle to halt Aubameyang the action was mainly at the other end with Costa letting fly from distance and then drawing a scrambled save from Bürki with his next effort.

Neuer made a first save of the evening in the 35th minute from Henrikh Mkhitaryan although Reus had already been called offside earlier in the BVB move, before centre-back Sokratis cleared Ribery’s dangerous cut-back for a corner. The Frenchman miscued from a decent position in the last minute of what proved a goalless first period.

FCB on top after half-time

Hummels headed the first chance of the second half over Neuer’s bar, but the Reds were soon on the attack and Lewandowski only just failed to convert Ribery’s cross at the far post, with Müller and the Pole also both coming close from a scramble shortly afterwards.

The game had come to life now with Aubameyang firing over the bar, but at the Dortmund end Lewandowski got underneath his shot following good work by Müller, Bürki intercepted Lahm’s chip, and the FCB captain’s drive was deflected wide by his own man.

The men in red kept probing with Bürki saving from Ribery, but despite losing Hummels to injury the BVB defence held firm. The black and yellows even fashioned a chance on the break but Aubameyang miscued his finish, and for all FCB’s dominance normal time ended goalless.

Drama of penalties

Lewandowski so nearly broke the deadlock four minutes into extra-time but BVB sub Erik Durm made a saving tackle. The Poland hitman then volleyed a difficult chance over the bar as Munich tightened their grip against their tiring opponents, although there was still danger when Borussia broke with Mkhitaryan dragging a shot across the face of Neuer’s goal.

Guardiola sent on Coman for Ribery early in the second period of extra-time, before Bürki tipped Costa’s deflected chip over the bar and then saved from Alaba as the champions’ superior fitness began to tell. But there were no goals and the match went to the drama of penalties with Bayern showing the stronger nerves in the shootout, Neuer saving from Sven Bender and Costa firing the winning spot-kick to seal a 4-3 win.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley