Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-4 Werder Bremen (DFB Pokal)- Bökelbergstadion, 1 May 1984
Grün v Weiß
The DFB Pokal has provided some of German football’s finest matches down the years from first round giant killings to stunning finals that decided the destination of the cup. The match in question here is a titanic semi-final clash between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen.
The first day of May 1984 saw Werder Bremen travelling down to the Rhineland to face Mönchengladbach with the sides fourth and fifth in the Bundesliga table and chasing eventual champions VfB Stuttgart. Both sides had won their respective home fixtures in the league and the Foals were going for their third Pokal win after previous triumphs in 1960 and 1973, whereas Werder has previously only got their hands on the Pokal in 1961. Both sides were coming off of wins in the Bundesliga with Werder beating Arminia Bielefeld 3-0 and Gladbach defeating Kaiserslautern 3-2.
A Bökelberg classic
Werder were without star striker Rudi Völler for this cup tie as he’d picked up a second yellow card in the previous round against VfB Stuttgart and veteran Klaus Fichtel also had to be drafted into the starting line-up at the age of 39 despite not featuring much in the league campaign due to Japanese Yasuhiko Okudera being out with a muscle injury and Bruno Pezzey being on international duty with Austria.
The opening forty minutes of the first half were interesting enough with the home side having the better of the chances- Frank Mill went close with a header and Ewald Lienen was denied from a tight angle by keeper Dieter Burdenski. The game however burst into life in the final five minutes of the half with three goal.
The opening goal arrived on 40 minutes when Hannes played a hopeful ball forward. What looked like a straightforward interception was missed by Fichtel and Lothar Matthäus found himself played onside as the most advanced Gladbach player. He controlled the ball before shooting past the outrushing Burdenski.
The lead however lasted just two minutes. A cross from the right from Uwe Reinders found forward Norbert Meier completely unmarked with three defenders drawn to Frank Neubarth. He followed the flight of the ball and volleyed past a helpless Ulrich Sude. Werder though allowed themselves to be breached again before the break when they struggled to clear a deep free-kick played in by Hans-Günter Bruns. Norbert Ringels headed into the six-yard box and when the ball came back out to him, he drilled it back into the back of the net to restore the hosts lead.
The second period curiously mirrored the first with all the goalscoring action taking place in the final fifteen minutes with both sides hitting the back of the net. This however came after a shocking incident midway through the second half when what appeared to be a smoke bomb was thrown from the Werder fan block into the Borussia penalty area.
However, when both Wolfgang Sidka and Uwe Rahn collapsed on the pitch, it became clear it was a tear gas cannister and the game had to be halted for several minutes with both players and fans being affected. Police arrested a number of fans and Werder manager Willi Lemke even suggested later that the game should be vetoed as both sides had been equally affected by the incident.
As in the first half Mönchengladbach scored first with Uwe Rahn scoring with his first meaningful contribution of the game in the 76th minute. After playing the ball wide, he carried on his run and powered an unstoppable header past the keeper to restore the Foals two-goal advantage.
However, like in the first half, Werder responded immediately and then some. Within six minutes of Rahn’s goal they would find themselves leading the match. Their first possession following the kick-off led to a right-wing cross from Wolfgang Sidka that captain Benno Möhlmann headed past Sude in a flash at the near post. A Maradona-esque solo run from Matthäus was then halted by Norbert Siegmann at the last minute before Werder grabbed their equaliser. Frank Ordenewitz earned a free-kick on the right and this time Sidka rose highest to head home the sixth goal of the game from Norbert Meier’s delivery.
Gladbach coach Jupp Heynckes responded by sending on Hans-Jörg Criens and Uli Borowka and the former would prove to be the headline act. But not before Werder had taken a quite remarkable 4-3 lead having been 3-1 down in the 76th minute. As the home side looked to respond the equaliser by attacking, Werder countered with men bombing forward and it was Uwe Reinders, who applied the finish to a fine move to send coach Ottmar Hitzfeld into raptures on the sidelines.
Wilfried Hannes had stoppage time goal ruled out (Matthäus looked like he was going to physically attack the linesman in frustration) and with the Hanseaten on the verge of a famous comeback win and a place in the final, Gladbach did hit a legitimate late equaliser to take the match to extra-time. A last-gasp corner was flicked on and substitute Criens was in the right place at the right time to head in from close range.
The substitute wasn’t done with grabbing the limelight though as he was the one to finally settle this pulsating tie during the extra-time period. The 107th minute saw fellow sub Borowka curl a ball into the box, where Criens pulled it down out of the air, controlled it on his head (perhaps not intentionally) before lashing the ultimate winner past Burdenski.
An absolute thriller at the Bökelberg was finally decided in the home side’s favour with few semi-finals producing as much drama (unless you consider the other semi-final played a day later between Bayern and Schalke, but more of that in a future article).
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sude, Ringels, Bruns, Hannes, Frontzeck, Herlovsen, Matthäus, Rahn, Schäfer (Borowka), Mill, Lienen (Criens).
Trainer: Jupp Heynckes
Goals: Matthäus (40), Ringels (44), Rahn (76), Crriens (90, 107)
Werder Bremen: Burdenski, Schaaf, Fichtel, Siegmann, Otten, Gruber (Kamp, 77. Ordenewitz), Sidka, Möhlmann, Meier, Reinders, Neubarth.
Trainer: Otto Rehhagel
Goals: Meier (42), Möhlmann (77), Sidka (80), Reinders (82)
This article is part of a new series on Bundesliga Fanatic entitled German Football’s Greatest Games. Celebrating 120 years since the first ever German football championship and 60 years since the first Bundesliga season, we’ll be going back through the country’s footballing history and writing about some of the most important and most memorable games Germany has ever seen.
Click the tag ‘German Football’s Greatest Games’ to see all the entries in the series.