Christian Pulisic set Borussia Dortmund on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win over third-tier Sportfreunde Lotte on Tuesday that took them into the semi-finals of the German Cup.
All the goals came in the second half, with Ousmane Dembele and Marcel Schmelzer netting after Pulisic’s opener to take Thomas Tuchel’s team into a last-four tie against Bayern Munich.
“It couldn’t have been a better evening for us,” Dortmund midfielder Gonzalo Castro told ARD after the game. “Lotte are a very good team, and we said before the game that we just wanted to get to the semi-finals.”
The original fixture was cancelled two weeks ago, after Lotte’s pitch was deemed unplayable by officials. The rescheduled game took place in the neutral venue of Osnabrueck.
Minnows Lotte had already beaten two Bundesliga opponents in a superb cup run this season. After a bright start to the game, it seemed their fairytale might continue.
Dortmund, though, proved to be too strong for the home side. Even without their injured star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they overpowered Lotte in the second half.
Lotte began bravely, creating several half-chances in the opening 15 minutes. The best opportunity fell to Tim Wendel, who was denied by goalkeeper Roman Buerki in a one-on-one situation.
Dortmund posed little threat in the first half, creating only a handful of chances. Long-range efforts from Gonzalo Castro and Raphael Guerreiro were as close as they came to goal in the first half.
“We took a bit of time to get into the game, but we didn’t make any major mistakes before half-time,” Dortmund captain Schmelzer told ARD. “Then we put in a very good performance in the second half.”
The away side picked up, with both Shinji Kagawa and Matthias Ginter coming close just after half-time.
Just before the hour mark, US international Pulisic, 18, broke the deadlock for Dortmund. After a fine run into the final third, Dembele released Pulisic in the penalty area, and the American slotted the ball through the legs of the goalkeeper.
Having scored, Dortmund took control. Schuerrle doubled the lead in the 66th minute, volleying in from close range.
With Lotte running out of energy, it was Dortmund who dictated the final 20 minutes. Dembele forced a good save from Benedikt Fernandez in the 77th minute, and scooped a wild shot over the crossbar minutes later.
A long-range effort from Bernd Rosinger and a half-hearted penalty appeal was all the home side could muster in the second half. In the 83rd minute, Schmelzer shattered all hopes of a comeback, making it 3-0 with a powerful free-kick.
“We were dangerous in the first half, and we really got behind each other in the second half. But it’s very difficult to keep such quality players away from goal for 90 minutes,” said Lotte coach Ismail Atalan.
Dortmund and Bayern will meet next month in a repeat of last season’s final, which Bayern won on penalties. Borussia Moenchengladbach will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the other semi-final.