Women’s DFB Cup: Wolfsburg wins final against Freiburg

Alexandra Popp was hoarse on Thursday evening. But that was a good sign. The captain of VfL Wolfsburg had to shout a lot during the DFB Cup final because the Cologne stadium was sold out for the first time with 44,808 spectators and was correspondingly loud. After the 4:1 (1:1) win against SC Freiburg, Popp was not only happy about the tenth cup triumph of their VfL, but also about the enormous sympathy. “Now you can see what we triggered last year with the European Championship,” croaked the 32-year-old, who never just fights for personal success, but always also for the establishment of women’s football.

So it was a day of celebration for Popp, Wolfsburg and German women’s football. The Freiburg women were of course a bit disappointed, but according to their honorary goal scorer Janina Minge, they will be proud of their participation in the final. Coach Theresa Merk praised her team’s performance, but found the slightly too high result “bitter”.

The trophy was caressed particularly intensively by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Merle Frohms, who has been in a cup final for the eighth time and won with Wolfsburg for the sixth time, but for the first time was really in goal and not just sitting on the bench or in the stands.

This 43rd DFB women’s final was bursting with records. In front of the impressive record crowd, Wolfsburg won the DFB-Pokal for the ninth time in a row and for the tenth time in a row with their 45th victory in a cup game, making the club the sole cup holders ahead of former 1. FFC Frankfurt with nine titles. “All good things come in tens” read a banner on the Wolfsburg fan block. “Record” was written on the players’ T-shirts. The individual cup final victory record holder before this final was the attacker Popp, who has triumphed twice with Duisburg since 2009 and now ten times with Wolfsburg and with twelve cup titles is even two ahead of her club. In her 50th cup game, she scored the 3-1 goal in the 84th minute.

The 0:4 Bundesliga slap in Frankfurt that preceded the cup final, which probably cost VfL the German championship because Bayern Munich can make everything clear on Saturday, was not noticeable to the Wolfsburg women. They seemed all the more focused, after all they want to secure at least the double after the almost lost triple. After winning the cup, they also need a triumph in the Champions League, in the final of which they will meet FC Barcelona in Eindhoven on June 3rd. Only this will be their most important game of the season, because the last Champions League title was nine years ago and three finals have been lost since then.

First VAR appearance in Women’s Cup final

“Enjoy it!”, Freiburg coach Merk, 33, told her players on the way to the vibrant stadium, but the enjoyment was dampened early on when the Freiburg women even helped VfL take a 1-0 lead. When Wolfsburg’s full-back Lynn Wilms put a ball in front of the goal in the 4th minute, goalkeeper Gabrielle Lambert only came up with her foot and deflected the shot unluckily to her own defender Lisa Karl, so that the ball bounced into her own goal. The Canadian Lambert had been signed as emergency help from Montpellier during the winter break, and this emergency had now occurred in the cup final because in Lena Nuding and Rafaela Borggräfe both goalkeepers were injured.

In recent years, Merk was one of the very few female graduates of the DFB football coaching course and then worked for two years as an assistant coach in Wolfsburg. They won the DFB Cup twice during this period, and Merk must have brought something of that final mentality with him from Wolfsburg, because the Freiburg women defended themselves against the overwhelming Wolfsburg women so stubbornly that the dangerous patrolman Janina Minge at least headed it in the 42nd minute made it 1-1 at the break.

Only after half-time did the legend Ewa Pajor come into play at Wolfsburg, who coach Tommy Stroot had left on the bench at the beginning of the game for tactical reasons. The Wolfsburg 2-1 in the 57th minute turned out to be a fitting combination of Pajor and Rebecka Blomqvist, who had been called up for her in the starting XI, when Pajor only hit the post and Blomqvist shot in from the margin.

After Popp had headed the 3:1, a hand penalty in the 89th minute, which Dominique Janssen converted to make it 4:1, was given by the referee Fabienne Michel after studying a video on the sidelines. For the first time, sorry, the VAR was used in the women’s cup final.

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