Berlin (AFP) – A brilliant back-heel from Luka Jovic inspired Eintracht Frankfurt to a 1-0 victory over Schalke in the semi-finals of the German Cup on Wednesday, meaning that Bayern Munich will meet their future coach Niko Kovac in next month’s final.
Jovic’s goal proved enough for ten-man Frankfurt to win a nervy game, firing Frankfurt into a second successive German Cup Final and setting up a fateful meeting between Kovac and Bayern on May 19.
The final in Berlin’s Olympiastadion will be Kovac’s last game as Frankfurt coach, before he takes the reins at Bayern this summer.
“It was an intense game, but the team were fantastic,” Kovac told Sky. “I think at the end of the day, my team wanted it a bit more.”
A bitterly fought midfield battle was as much as the first half had to offer until a flurry of chances for Schalke on the half-hour mark.
Leon Goretzka’s shot was deflected just wide of the post, and Lukas Hradecky denied Guido Burgstaller with a flying save from the resulting corner.
Frankfurt’s Kevin-Prince Boateng was substituted off with a thigh injury before half-time, while tempers briefly flared in a dispute between Ralf Faehrmann and Marco Fabian.
“I can’t even feel the pain anymore,” said Boateng, who will face his half brother Jerome against Bayern.
“We’re going to Berlin, nothing else matters. I am so proud of the team.”
The second half proved equally cagey, with both sides reluctant to commit men forward.
On 67 minutes, Hradecky came to Frankfurt’s rescue once again, spreading himself to beat away Burgstaller’s shot from close range.
It was Frankfurt, though who took the lead in the 74th minute.
Jonathan De Guzman’s corner found Jovic at the front post, and the young Serbian guided it in with a delightful flick of the heel.
With ten minutes to play, Frankfurt’s Gelson Fernandes was sent off for a foul on Leon Goretzka after consultation with VAR.
Schalke were then denied an injury-time equaliser when Franco Di Santo was ruled to have handled the ball.
Bayern beat Bayer Leverkusen 6-2 in their semi-final on Tuesday.