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4th division club's near-upset of Bayer Leverkusen was a gut-punch

Meet FC Magdeburg, who you will want to cry for.

Ronny Hartmann

Every year, there are some wonderful upsets to be found in every domestic cup in Europe. And for 120-plus minutes, Wednesday's German DFB-Pokal tie between top flight Bayer Leverkusen -- currently competing in the Champions League -- and minnows FC Madgeburg promised to be the best of the year.

Then it all came crashing down for Magdeburg in the worst fashion imaginable.

What's an FC Magdeburg?

FC Magdeburg are a club in the Regionalliga Nordost, one of the regional leagues that makes up Germany's fourth tier of football. The city they play in, Magdeburg, is actually pretty big -- nearly a quarter of a million people live there. They used to be one of the biggest clubs in the former East Germany and have a stadium that seats 27,000 people, which is absolutely enormous for a fourth division club.

At the end of the 1990-91 season, the former East German top flight was integrated into the former West German league system to form one pyramid. They had a bad season and failed to win a spot in the Bundesliga or 2. Bundesliga, and had to settle for a spot in the third division.

The fans that show up for games are pretty funny. They had a run of five straight without scoring this year, so they decided to make arrows pointing at the goal.

So what happened?

First half featured goals for both teams, but was pretty uneventful. Magdeburg equalizing after Bayer scored early was cool, but both goals came as the result of some pretty poor goalkeeping. Things got interesting in the second half when Bayer star Son Heung-Min was shown a red card, then really interesting late in extra time, when Magdeburg did this.

That's Niklas Brandt, hitting an absolute stunner from 25 yards in the 111th minute. It looked like it was going to be a winner for Magdeburg, but they conceded four minutes later, and were forced to go to penalties tied 2-2.

The shootout started in dream fashion for Magdeburg. They made their first three penalties, while Bayer stars Emir Spahic and Stefan Kießling missed. Magdeburg only had to make one of their last two or stop one more Bayer penalty to ensure progression.

But Bayer keeper Bernd Leno denied them, twice in a row. First, Nicolas Hebisch, then the goal-scorer Brandt. After both sides converted in the 6th round and Tin Jedvaj scored for Bayer in the 7th, Leno denied Magdeburg's Lars Fuchs, saving his team from embarrassment and denying what would have been one of the biggest upsets of the year anywhere in world football.


Someone go give Lars Fuchs a hug.