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Bayer Leverkusen isn’t known for giving its coaches an easy ride. Heiko Herrlich endured a frustrating night on his competitive debut on Friday, before three goals in extra time finally secured his side’s progress 3-0 against third-division Karlsruher SC in the first round of the German Cup.
“It cost a lot of nerves but we persevered,” Herrlich said.
He was appointed in the offseason to lead Leverkusen back among the sides playing European football after the side flirted with relegation last season. Herrlich was clearly unhappy as Karlsruhe kept his side scoreless in the first 90 minutes.
Substitute Joel Pohjanpalo should have won it in injury time but he missed from seven meters. Dominik Kohr finally made the breakthrough minutes into extra time with a header to Julian Brandt’s free kick, Pohjanpalo then made up for his earlier miss, and Leon Bailey gave the score a flattering look with his first competitive goal for the side.
Leverkusen is back next Friday in the Bundesliga opening game against defending champion Bayern Munich.
Borussia Moenchengladbach also needed to dig deep to win at Rot-Weiss Essen 2-1. The visitors had an uphill task when captain Benjamin Baier headed the fourth-tier side into a first-half lead, and the Bundesliga side’s frustrations grew as Essen sat back and defended in numbers in the second half. Jonas Hofmann finally equalized at the second attempt, just minutes after going on as a substitute. Raffael scored the winner.
Dynamo Dresden beat fourth-tier side Koblenz 3-2 thanks to Markus Schubert saving a late penalty, and Holstein Kiel came from behind to defeat second-division rival Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 after defender Joseph Baffo was sent off for conceding the penalty from which Kiel equalized.