June 10, 2020 / 3:45 AM / 25 days ago

Leverkusen beat minnows to book place in German Cup final

VOLKLINGEN, Germany (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen beat lowly Saarbruecken 3-0 away on Tuesday to reach next month’s German Cup final and bring the fairytale run of the fourth division side to a jolting end.

Soccer Football - DFB Cup - Semi Final - 1.FC Saarbruecken v Bayer Leverkusen - Hermann-Neuberger-Stadion, Voelklingen, Germany - June 9, 2020 Bayer Leverkusen's Lucas Alario celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Ronald Wittek/Pool via REUTERS

Two goals inside the opening 20 minutes swiftly ended home hopes as top-flight Leverkusen advanced to the July 4 decider in Berlin where they will meet the winner of Wednesday’s clash between holders Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt.

French flyer Moussa Diaby put Leverkusen ahead in the 11th minute and Lucas Alario added a second eight minutes later, before substitute Karim Bellarabi rounded off the scoring in the 58th.

Saarbruecken were the first team from the fourth tier to reach the last four of the cup, taking the scalps of two top-flight and two second division clubs along the way, but had the odds stacked against them ahead of Tuesday’s game.

They had not played for 94 days since the German regional league was suspended and then prematurely ended because of the novel coronavirus health crisis.

This was in contrast to their high-flying Bundesliga opponents, who resumed playing one month ago and whose superior match fitness was evident almost from the opening whistle.

Diaby timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap and get onto the end of a clever forward pass over the defence, which he then hooked into the goal from close range.

Alario added a second from a tight angle after a mix-up in the hosts’ defence.

Leverkusen, also still contention for another trophy in this season’s Europa League, continued their dominance and added a third goal, just before the hour, through Bellarabi after a series of slick passes.

Yet they were also guilty of squandering several good chances after that and could easily have won by a far larger margin.

Saarbruecken’s Markus Mendler miscued his effort in front of goal to squander their best chance for a consolation on the stroke of fulltime.

Leverkusen, who won the German Cup for the only time in 1993, lasted appeared in the final in 2009 when they lost to Werder Bremen.

Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis

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