BERLIN: Champions Bayern Munich maintained hopes of a treble after a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen secured the German Cup for a record-extending 20th time at the Berlin Olympiastadion.
Bayern sealed their 13th domestic double as Hansi Flick, who took over as interim boss when they sacked Niko Kovac in November, repaid the Bavarian club’s faith in him by winning his first final as permanent manager.
Flick also became the first German to win the country’s league and cup double as a player and manager.
David Alaba gave Bayern the lead with a free kick in the 16th minute after Robert Lewandowski was fouled at the edge of the box, with the defender’s effort sailing over the wall and beating the outstretched arm of Lukas Hradecky in goal.
Bayern doubled the lead when Joshua Kimmich released Serge Gnabry down the right channel and the winger’s uncontested shot nestled into the bottom corner for the 24-year-old’s 20th goal of the season in all competitions.
Lewandowski then pounced on Manuel Neuer’s long ball and let fly a thunderous strike from range at Hradecky and the Finnish goalkeeper fumbled, allowing the ball to creep over the line to give the Polish striker his 50th goal of the season.
Leverkusen opened their account when Sven Bender headed home at the far post from a corner kick but it was too little, too late as Lewandowski grabbed a second with a chip over the keeper in the 89th minute from Ivan Perisic’s cutback.
There was late drama when VAR spotted a handball in the box in stoppage time to award Leverkusen a penalty. Kai Havertz’s consolation strike into the top corner proved to be the final kick of the game as Bayern defended their title.
Bayern have now won 17 games in a row in all competitions and are also unbeaten in their last 26 games stretching back to December. They lead Chelsea 3-0 on aggregate in the Champions League last-16, with the second leg to be played next month.
Leverkusen, who missed out on Champions League qualification after finishing fifth in the Bundesliga, can still qualify for Europe’s elite competition if they win the Europa League where they lead Rangers 3-1 on aggregate in the last-16.
Ronaldo relief, Buffon record
In Italy Cristiano Ronaldo admitted his relief at scoring from a free kick for Juventus after 42 failed attempts and nearly two years of trying.
“I needed to score from a free kick to get my confidence back,” said the 35-year-old after a 4-1 derby win over Torino in Serie A.
The match also saw Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon set a record for the number of Serie A appearances when he played his 648th game..
The 42-year-old, who made his Serie A debut for Parma as a 17-year-old in November 1995, overtook the record previously held by former AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini.
Buffon stayed with Parma for six seasons, making 168 Serie A appearances, before joining Juventus in 2001. He left the Turin side at the end of the 2017-18 season and joined Paris St Germain, where he spent one season before returning to Juventus.
He also played 37 times in Serie B after Juventus were relegated over the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal in 2006 and 17 times in Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain.
This match was his eighth of the season in Serie A and his first this year.