DAVID SMITH - Monday, May 23, 2011
David Yelldell and Duisburg had their dream run to the German Cup final come to a brutal end, giving up a record five goals to a vastly superior Schalke team on Saturday in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.
In contrast to a league campaign which fell flat during the winter and spring months, Duisburg's successful advancement to the Cup final had given the team and its fans some fleeting thoughts of post-season glory.
The Zebras' appearance in Berlin was the first time a team outside of the top flight had advanced this far since Aachen lost the 2004 final to Werder Bremen, with Hannover's 1992 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach being the only time a team from a lower league had taken the prize.
The talent gulf between the two teams was clearly apparent from the opening whistle, as Schalke had no problems to boss play on the field, and needed only 18 minutes to take the lead.
Jefferson Farfan slid a short pass forward to 17 year-old midfielder Julian Draxler, who needed just a single touch to create space around the two marking defenders, and blast his right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area to the left side of goal.
The advantage was doubled four minutes later, as Farfan hit Klaas Jan Huntelaar with with a diagonal pass to the right edge of the six-yard box, which the Dutchman swiftly redirected just inside the right upright, out of the reach of the lunging Yelldell.
Duisburg did recover their composure after the half-hour and gave some signs of hope to the legions of traveling fans that they might be able to cut the lead, however conceded shortly before the half to make the final result all but certain.
Farfan delivered an inswinging corner from the right side, which both Yelldell and Schalke defender Benedikt Höwedes went up for. Unfortunately for the American, Höwedes had half a step of space in front him, and headed the ball from five yards out for 3-0.
Spanish midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado made it four for the Königsblauen ten minutes into the second half, taking a pass from Huntelaar in the midfield and storming to the top edge of the penalty area before slotting home his low 20-yarder just to the right of Yelldell.
Schalke netted one last time in the 70th minute in a comical sequence which rightly summed up Duisburg's bad night. Zebras defender Goran Sukalu took a bad touch on the ball inside of his own penalty area with two Schalke attackers in the immediate vicinity.
While Draxler's initial attempt to strike the loose ball over the line was deflected by Sukalo, the ball landed at the foot of Huntelaar who adeptly hit a low shot that flew just inside the far post for the final knockout punch.
The Zebras will have a short three-week summer break before they begin preparations for their 2011-12 2. Bundesliga campaign on June 13. Yelldell could be joining the team later, as he is in contention to be included in Bob Bradley's player selection for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.