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Coman leads Bayern to German Cup opening win over Cottbus (video)

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BERLIN (AP) Bayern Munich began its German Cup defense on Monday with a 3-1 win at former Bundesliga side Energie Cottbus, which was relegated from Germany’s third division last season.

It was a battling performance from the youthful home side, rewarded with Berkan Taz’s consolation from the penalty spot in injury time.

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Cottbus goalkeeper Lennart Moser was the team’s busiest player, earning the man of the match award. The 19-year-old deflected Robert Lewandowski’s shot onto the crossbar in the 14th minute but couldn’t prevent the Poland striker from breaking the deadlock on a rebound in the 32nd.

“We have to be more precise with the last pass in the final third,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac said.

The visitors had to wait until the 65th for the second goal, a fierce strike from distance from Coman after he cut inside from the left.

Substitute Leon Goretzka sealed the result in the 85th, with the ball taking a slight deflection from Lewandowski before going in.

Kovac took the opportunity to bring on record signing Lucas Hernandez for his Bayern debut in the 89th.

Earlier, 10-man Wolfsburg needed extra time to beat third-division Hallescher FC 5-3. Stuttgart won 1-0 at third-division Hansa Rostock, while Karlsruher SC defeated second-division rival Hannover 2-0.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Bayern’s history meets upstart Leipzig in German Cup final

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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BERLIN (AP) Their histories, and lists of achievements, couldn’t be more different.

Bayern Munich has won 54 major titles, while Leipzig has none. Bayern has been around for 119 years, Leipzig 10.

Luckily for Leipzig, though, those numbers won’t mean much when the two teams meet in the German Cup final on Saturday.

Bayern won its 29th German league title last Saturday and is bidding for a record-extending 19th German Cup win. But Leipzig will head into the match knowing it’s no pushover.

Leipzig held Bayern to a 0-0 draw in the Bundesliga’s penultimate round – delaying the Bavarian club’s title celebrations by another week – while Bayern needed penalties to get past Leipzig in their only previous German Cup meeting in October 2017.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac, who won the title with Eintracht Frankfurt against his future club last year, is preparing for his third straight final. Kovac, however, is under pressure after his debut season at Bayern and would boost his case to remain with a win.

Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick, who is really the club’s sporting director, is leading the opposing team on an interim basis this season before Julian Nagelsmann arrives from Hoffenheim to take over.

Leipzig’s mere existence is a source of ire for rival fans who object to its fast rise, which was made possible by energy drink manufacturer Red Bull and its co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz. The 75-year-old Austrian billionaire bought a local fifth-tier team, SSV Markranstadt, rebranded it with his company’s name and financed its steady promotion through the lower leagues to the Bundesliga.

Few at the club could have imagined that it would be so successful, so quickly. Leipzig finished second and qualified for the Champions League in its debut Bundesliga season, dropped to sixth because of the added burden of European games in its next, and comfortably finished third after another solid campaign this season.

It would not have been possible without Red Bull, which already had the New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Salzburg, Red Bull Brasil and Red Bull Ghana in its portfolio of soccer clubs.

Leipzig chairman Oliver Mintzlaff defended receiving a loan of 134.2 million euros ($150 million) from the energy drink behemoth, saying Friday that it was necessary for the establishment of what has become a highly successful club.

“That we had to take a loan as a start-up company, to invest in bricks and legs, is right,” Mintzlaff told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily newspaper. “But if we were to sell everything that was achieved here, purely theoretically, the club would have made a very, very big plus. There would be big double-digit, maybe even a triple-digit million figure remaining.”

Leipzig’s turnover is 250 million euros ($279 million), compared to Bayern’s 657.4 ($734 million) for 2017-18.

Mintzlaff said the club was among the “most transparent soccer clubs,” in contrast to the likes of Volkswagen-backed Wolfsburg.

“We don’t hide anything. We wouldn’t get a license if we didn’t pay our debts,” Mintzlaff said. “Other clubs that get money from other backers do it, too. Borussia Dortmund is a stock cooperation, Hertha Berlin has got an investor on board, Schalke has (food industry billionaire) Clemens Tonnies.”

Bayern is backed by sportswear giant Adidas, carmaker Audi and financial services company Allianz, with each holding an 8.33% stake in the club, which has further lucrative sponsorship deals with Deutsche Telekom, DHL, Siemens, Goodyear, SAP, Paulaner beer and Qatar Airways. The latter is the subject of protest from some Bayern fans.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Bayern beats Bremen 3-2 to reach German Cup final

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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BREMEN, Germany (AP) Robert Lewandowski sent Bayern Munich into the German Cup final by scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen on Wednesday, including the winner in the 80th minute.

Bayern built a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead after Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 36th minute by turning in a header from Thomas Mueller, who added the second in the 63rd.

But Bremen staged a quick comeback with two goals in the span of two minutes through Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica.

However, Kingsley Coman was fouled inside the box in the 80th minute and Lewandowski converted the penalty to set up a final against RB Leipzig.

“In my opinion, we deserve to reach the final because we had better chances than Bremen,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac said.

“It was a great fight, as expected, and in the end we needed that little bit of luck.”

Coman seals Bayern’s German Cup progress in extra time

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
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BERLIN (AP) Kingsley Coman sent Bayern Munich into the German Cup quarterfinals with an extra-time winner for a 3-2 victory at Hertha Berlin on Wednesday.

Despite dominating the game, Bayern was facing the prospect of penalties in front of some 75,000 fans at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium until Hertha’s defense failed to deal with a bobbling ball and Coman headed in from close range in the 98th minute.

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Hertha had only three efforts on goal but scored with, and took the lead through Maximilian Mittelstaedt in the third minute. But Robert Lewandowski set up Serge Gnabry to reply four minutes later, and Bayern went on to dominate the game in terms of possession and chances. Gnabry claimed his second right after the break, shooting inside the far post after James Rodriguez – who started for the second successive game – helped the ball on.

A mistake from Mats Hummels then allowed Hertha substitute Davie Selke to equalize with only the side’s second chance in the 67th, after the Bayern defender botched a back-pass to goalkeeper Sven Ulreich. Selke pounced and scored from a narrow angle.

Elsewhere, Schalke marked the death of former general manager Rudi Assauer ahead of its 4-1 home win over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Assauer oversaw the club’s UEFA Cup win in 1997 and two successive German Cup titles, and also oversaw the building of the club’s stadium.

“Without Rudi, none of us would be here. Rudi is the architect of modern Schalke,” current general manager Clemens Toennies said before kickoff.

Earlier, Leipzig defeated Wolfsburg 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, and Augsburg won 1-0 at second-division Holstein Kiel.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

WATCH: USMNT’s Johannsson stays hot with classy chip

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My goodness, does Aron Johannsson just love a nice arc or what?

The Icelandic-Alabaman (Alabamian?) is making the most of rare playing time for Werder Bremen, adding to his role in two weekend goals by scoring his first goal since September 2016 in Tuesday’s German Cup match vs. Bayer Leverkusen.

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You’ll likely recall Johannsson’s gorgeous scooped pass that helped set up Bremen’s match-winner at Schalke on Saturday.

That helped Johansson, who had played four matches for a total of 12 minutes before the weekend, get a start on Tuesday. He did not disappoint, though Bayer came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the relegation-threatened visitors 4-2.