Niko Kovac admits Niklas Sule’s dismissal upset his plans as Bayern Munich scraped through tricky a DFB Cup quarter-final clash by beating Heidenheim 5-4.
The German second-tier side gave Bayern a run for their money on Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena as they sought to cause an upset against the Bundesliga champions.
Despite Leon Goretzka’s 12th-minute opener, Heidenheim emerged with a 2-1 first-half lead following Sule’s red card just a minute after Bayern’s first goal.
Therefore, Kovac’s side were in real danger of falling to reach the DFB Cup semi-finals for the first time in 10 years and headed into the break in a desperate need to regroup.
And a change of tactics during half-time appeared to do the trick as Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry all scored to put Bayern 4-2 up.
But, just as the Bavarians began to lower their guard, Heidenheim were back on level terms in the space of three minutes when Robert Glatzel scored twice to complete a sensational hat-trick.
However, Bayern’s blushes were spared when Lewandowski slotted in a late penalty to book the club a last-four spot in the competition.
“The red card upset our plans, we had to react and switch to a 4-4-1 formation to ensure a certain compactness,” said Bayern boss Kovac on the club website.
“We got a better grip in the second half when we deployed a back three, we turned the tide then. I’m really angry we weren’t able to run the clock down when it was 4-2, we made life difficult for ourselves.
“It was a wild, open match, I don’t like it this way. Towards the end, we had the bit of luck you need in the cup. I’ve never seen a match like this.”
Meanwhile, Muller conceded that Sule’s red card changed the tide of the game in the first half. But the German believes the main thing is that Bayern won in the end.
“We certainly didn’t play well after the red card. We adjusted at half-time and turned in a very good display until our fourth goal,” said the striker.
“We need to digest the following twist. The main thing is: you could see FC Bayern were still there at that point, even if it was against Heidenheim, although they did a really good job.
Now Muller has urged the team to now focus on Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
He added: “We’re through, and now we must use the psychological advantage we’ve earned for the next few days. We must give it everything and put Dortmund under pressure and win here.”