Leverkusen win German Cup for maiden domestic double – Sport

BERLIN: Granit Xhaka scored the only goal as a 10-man Bayer Leverkusen battled past second division Kaiserslautern 1-0 on Saturday to win the German Cup and secure the club’s first ever domestic double.

Leverkusen missed out on a treble after losing 3-0 to Atalanta in the Europa League final on Wednesday in their first defeat of the season after a European record 51-game unbeaten run.

This was Leverkusen’s second German Cup win after their maiden victory back in 1993.

“To win like that at the end, we showed our team spirit. We fought hard, we did it for everyone, the fans, the club,” Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso told Germany’s ARD. “To achieve the double. It’s been a great season”.

Alonso won praise from his opposing coach Friedhelm Funkel, 70, who managed his last game before retiring. “To go through the Bundesliga season unbeaten, it’s madness. That he could flick that switch in his first year, is incredible. I think he’ll win many, many titles.”

In Berlin’s Olympic stadium, which will host the Euro 2024 finals in July, the champions bagged the winner with Xhaka’s 20-metre missile in the 16th minute.

They controlled the tempo even after they were reduced to 10 men following Odilon Kossounou’s second booking a minute before halftime.

Kaiserslautern rarely threatened after the break with Leverkusen comfortably holding on to cap a memorable season with a second trophy.

“It was a deserved victory,” said club CEO Fernando Carro. “We could have added another goal but overall a fully deserved win. We lifted the Cup after we failed to do so Wednesday. Compliments to the team to win this double.”

Long derided as ‘Neverkusen’ for their failure to win a major title since that 1993 Cup win, Leverkusen ended their season with more silverware after also winning the Bundesliga title without a single loss — the first German team to achieve that feat.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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