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Lewandowski avoids Bayern embarrassment against amateur team

August 18, 2018
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Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates with his teammate Thomas Mueller, left, after scoring the opening goal during the German Soccer Cup, DFB-Pokal, match between fourth league club SV Drochtersen/Assel and Bayern Munich in Drochtersen, northern Germany, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (Carmen Jaspersen/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A fourth-tier team of amateurs held Bayern Munich scoreless for more than 80 minutes before Robert Lewandowski ended chances of an unlikely upset in the first round of the German Cup on Saturday.

SV Drochtersen/Assel, a team from a town of only 11,000 inhabitants in the north of Germany, frustrated the country’s top team until Lewandowski’s 81st-minute goal finally sent the Bundesliga powerhouse through 1-0.

“I’m happy we’re still in the cup,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac said after his first serious game in charge.

Another fourth-tier side, Ulm, defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 to send the defending champion out at the first hurdle.

Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg, Mainz and Nuremberg all progressed with wins over lower-league opposition.

Hamburger SV, relegated from the Bundesliga last season, eventually prevailed 5-3 over fifth-tier side TuS Erndtebrueck.

Drochtersen mayor Mike Eckhoff had called the town’s match against Bayern the “game of the century,” and the team’s players rose to the occasion, closing down their opponents and making it difficult for them to impose their game.

“I find it incredible that we were able to keep the game open for so long,” Drochtersen coach Lars Uder said. “That’s why I’m so proud of my team.”

The home side might even have gone ahead when captain Soeren Behrmann sent the ball through for Florian Nagel. The Drochtersen midfielder was only stopped by a fine reaction from Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Drochtersen was only playing in the German Cup for the second time in its 41-year existence after winning the Lower Saxony Cup, and the club more than doubled its stadium capacity from 3,000 to 7,500 with temporary seats just for the visit of the record 18-time cup winners.

Thiago Alcantara came closest for Bayern early in the second half when he struck the crossbar, before the game was interrupted by inflatable beach balls and rolls of toilet paper coming from the Munich fans’ block.

Thomas Mueller had a goal ruled out for the visitors before Lewandowski finally made one count when he was set up by new signing Leon Goretzka.

However, there were complaints from Drochtersen Meikel Klee that he had been struck in the face by Franck Ribery in the buildup. Klee, a bricklayer, had been looking forward to facing the French winger before the game, when he said he had been a Bayern fan for 23 years.

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