Exhale. Borussia Dortmund are through to the semifinals of the DFB-Pokal after beating Stuttgart 3-1 in a thrilling but peculiar cup tie.
The match was hectic from the get-go, and the first goal came before many of the fans had even taken their seats. Marco Reus scored in the fifth minute when he got on the end of a low cross from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It was Reus' 14th goal of the season in only 22 games played.
The weather was a factor all game in Stuttgart as the rain created some sloppy conditions on the field. The hosts got back into the game via a deflected effort in the 21st minute from Lukas Rupp. Rupp was the quickest to react after Dortmund failed to completely clear their lines. The deflection gave Burki no chance to make a save.
Things then took a turn for the peculiar as the travelling Dortmund fans began to throw tennis balls onto the pitch in their corner of the stadium. The move was a part of a protest from the BVB fans after Stuttgart charged €38.50 for the cheapest tickets in the away section. A notable number of Dortmund supporters also boycotted the first 20 minutes of the match, taking their seats just before Stuttgart's equalizer.
The tennis balls proved to be a good omen for BVB as they retook the lead on 31 minutes through Aubameyang. The leading scorer in Germany found himself marked by two defenders, but he still managed to keep control and fire the ball low and inside the post for BVB's second goal. It was another really well taken finish from Aubameyang for his eighth goal in his last seven matches.
Dortmund were in control for most of the match thanks in part to an incredible performance from İlkay Gündoğan. Gündoğan bossed the midfield by covering a tremendous amount of ground. He shut down chances at one end and created them at the other, playing perfectly in his box-to-box role.
The chances kept piling up for BVB in the second half, but the visitors weren't able to put one away until the final minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a few notable misses, including one just a few centimeters from goal which he somehow managed to put over the crossbar.
Just when it looked like his luck had run out on the night, the Armenian finally got his goal. Aubameyang was the creator after winning the ball in his own half and running it all the way to the Stuttgart box. When former Dortmund keeper Mitchell Langerak committed to stopping Auba, he slid it to Mkhitaryan for the tap-in and the nail in Stuttgart's coffin.
Dortmund are into the semifinals and are hoping to win their fourth ever DFB-Pokal. BVB have come up short in the finals the last two years, losing to Wolfsburg and to Bayern Munich. The draw for the next round will take place on Wednesday after the Bayern-Bochum matchup.