“We defended well and tried to stretch the wide areas with our own build-up play. We should’ve played the passes quicker in one or two situations in the first half,” head coach Christian Streich analysed after the round of 16 win. “We definitely did that better in the second half with some switches of play. At the end of the game we needed a set piece to win, but we did force a few of them. All in all, it’s a well-deserved win.”
The Freiburg coaching staff made five changes to the side which started the defeat away to Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, setting up in a 4-4-2 formation. Outfield, Kiliann Sildillia, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, Lucas Höler and Ritsu Doan were replaced by Maximilian Eggestein, Roland Sallai, Wooyeong Jeong and Michael Gregoritsch, whilst Noah Atubolu replaced Mark Flekken in goal, as was the case against St. Pauli in the previous Pokal round.
The second-division hosts also lost heavily at the weekend and made two changes. Former Freiburg players Immanuel Höhn and Hamadi Al-Ghaddioudi came in for Dario Drmic and David Kinsombi.
Around 15,000 fans were present at the stadium, with an away end of around 3,500 Freiburg fans. Some away followers also found seats in the home end, and their loud support contributed to a home game atmosphere for SCF. For that mass of away fans watching on, 95 minutes of hard work was needed to give them cause for celebration.
SCF dominate, Sandhausen compact at the back
Freiburg began on the front foot and created the first major chance just five minutes after kick-off. Vincenzo Grifo chipped the ball into the six-yard box from the left, where Michael Gregoritsch tested SVS goalkeeper Patrick Drewes with a header – the goalkeeper was able to gather at the second attempt.
Alois Schwartz’s Sandhausen side kept SC in their defensive half, but at arm’s length, sitting deep and looking to counter. As the away side combined well up until the final third but left a touch of precision to be desired, the opening stages of the game continued with little action apart from some hard-hitting tackles.
Despite the Sandhausen defence being largely at sea in their 4-0 defeat against Darmstadt at the weekend, they tightened up against the Bundesliga side and only allowed a second chance in the 34th minute. A low Roland Sallai drive from outside the penalty area looked dangerous, but fizzed just wide of goal. As half-time drew nearer, the SVS goal was more and more closely threatened – A Grifo free-kick from midfield founds its way to Lukas Kübler’s head inside the area, where his attempt narrowly evaded the posts (43’). Despite the SCF dominance, the half finished goalless.
A patient second half
The game continued in much the same vein after the interval, with Freiburg working hard to find the lead, but the hosts setting up shop in their own half. Drewes was called into action with ten minutes of the 45 gone, but Matthias Ginter’s header landed just centimetres off-target. SCF’s attacks became more and more dangerous, but the Sandhausen goal remained untroubled – just after the hour mark, Michael Gregoritsch also missed with his head following a wonderful bit of set-up play from Roland Sallai.
Freiburg’s coaching staff rung the changes ahead of the closing stages, bringing on Lucas Höler for Wooyeong Jeong to try and change the game, before replacing Kübler and Sallai with Doan and Sildillia.
Set-piece and Pedersen decide the tie
The tie was becoming more and more of a waiting game, with the clock counting down as SCF were denied on the edge of the box time and again.
With 87 minutes on the clock, the team and the thousands of travelling fans finally got their reward. Grifo sent in a corner from the left, where it bounced off the arm of Al-Ghaddioudi and into the net for 1-0. A well-earned goal, even if it was lucky to be scored.
The board went up for five minutes’ added time, raising the pulses of all in the stadium. Despite having little to do all evening, Atubolu did brilliantly to deny Christian Kinsombi with his foot. A VAR check was next to worry the SCF team, but the decision was made not to award a penalty against the Bundesliga side. Nils Petersen then finished off the game with a wonderful goal. A late substitute, the striker latched onto a misplaced clearance from Drewes around 25 yards from goal, his first-time left-footed effort finding the corner (90+5’).
That secured SC Freiburg’s passage into the DFB-Pokal quarterfinals for the second time in as many seasons. The next round draw will be made on February 19th, with ties to be played on April 4th-5th.
Photo: Achim Keller