Bayern thrash Leipzig to clinch the domestic double
Bayern Munich faced a lot of questions going into the German Cup final. But perhaps the biggest was whether it was wise to bring Manuel Neuer back into goal after his difficult season and his injury troubles.
Neuer answered this after just 10 minutes, raising up a right hand to palm away a close-range header from Yussuf Poulsen. RB Leipzig couldn't have known it at the time, but this would prove one of their few clear-cut chances all night.
Neuer was on hand again right after half time to deny Emil Forsberg in a one-on-one. Leipzig had the upper hand for most of the first half, but struggled to convert their dominance into chances.
Bayern, meanwhile, were merciless — none more so than their lethal number 9 Robert Lewandowski. The Pole's first goal was one of the toughest headers imaginable, off balance and falling away from goal, but he placed it well out of Robert Gulasci's reach.
In the dying minutes, he showed his goal-poaching instincts, pouncing on a defensive error by Dayot Upamecano and coolly chipping Gulasci to put the result beyond doubt.
As an added bonus the Pole's brace moved him up to seven goals in the German Cup this season, making him the competition's top scorer at Pierre-Michel Lasogga's expense.
Kinglsey Coman, influential in creating Lewandowski's first, scored one of his own in style late in the second half. This demonstrated that Kovac's had the right answer to another difficult pre-game question.
Rather than honoring club heroes Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Kovac opted for youth on the flanks, starting Coman and Serge Gnabry. In the second half, with the game decided, then the renowned "Robbery" duo came on to replace their successors on the wings.
Coman was involved in creating the first, and scored the second all by himself. Having secured the league on the last day, Niko Kovac can now claim a domestic double in his first season in charge. It's Bayern's 19th Cup triumph, from just 23 final appearances, and their 12th domestic double.
But in a telling sign that not everything has gone right on Säbener Strasse this season, star defender of recent years Jerome Boateng watched the entire final from the bench and then did not join his teammates as they celebrated in Berlin's Olympiastadion. Expect him to wear a different jersey next season.
RB Leipzig's first major trophy will not come in the new franchise's first decade as the new force in German football — but you get the feeling there may not be long to wait.