BERLIN - Bayer Leverkusen scored three goals in extra time to overcome plucky second division side Mainz 4-1 and reach the German Cup final on Tuesday. Goals from Arturo Vidal, Simon Rolfes and Michal Kadlec finally broke the sprit of the underdogs who had struck a late equaliser through Arisitide Bance to force the extra period. In the May 30 final at the Berlin Olympic stadium Leverkusen, Cup winners in 1993, will face Hamburg SV or Werder Bremen who meet in the last four on Wednesday. The Bundesliga side, who briefly led the standings before dropping to ninth place after one win in their last eight league games, had to work hard against a disciplined Mainz defence. But the visitors, third in the second tier and fighting for promotion, ran out of steam allowing Leverkusen to cling on to the hope of playing in the Europa League next season. "We showed great character out there," Leverkusen coach Bruno Labbadia told ARD television. "The team did well. We wore the opponents down." SOLID MAINZ It took Leverkusen 20 minutes to carve out a chance through striker Patrick Helmes, who struck a low close-range shot that sailed across goal and just wide of the far post. Mainz defended well and striker Bance, who got the winner against Schalke 04 in the quarter-finals, was a constant threat. But in the final quarter of the match Leverkusen poured forward and substitute Angelos Haristeas struck what looked to be the winner in the 82nd minute when the Greece striker tapped home a poor clearance by goalkeeper Dimo Wache. However, Bance levelled two minutes from time when he headed in Milorad Pekovic's cross to take the game into extra time. Chilean Vidal put Leverkusen back in front in the second minute of extra time with a close range effort and midfielder Rolfes then flicked in a Manuel Friedrich header to make it 3-1. Michal Kadlec completed the rout after a fine solo run in the 117th minute. "It was a hard win but we enjoyed ourselves. We had fun doing it and now we get to travel to Berlin," said Haristeas.
22 April 2009
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