Sven Ulreich's penalty heroics lead Bayern Munich to Super Cup win
Bayern Munich snatched their first trophy of the season in the German Super Cup with a dramatic 7-6 penalty shootout victory in Borussia Dortmund's backyard at the Westfalenstadion.
U.S. star Christian Pulisic's goal fired Dortmund ahead on 12 minutes, but Robert Lewandowski equalised from close range six minutes later against his former side.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang restored BVB's lead on 71 minutes with an exquisite lobbed finish before a comical pinball own goal (via Dortmund keeper Roman Burki) with only two minutes left secured a nail-biting penalty shootout.
Bayern's Joshua Kimmich saw his spot kick saved by Burki, but Bayern backup keeper Sven Ulreich (who started this match) proved to be the unlikely hero, saving a pair of penalty kicks -- from ex-Bayern midfielder Sebastian Rode and Marc Bartra -- to seal the Super Cup.
Bayern was missing the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng, James Rodriguez, David Alaba, Juan Bernat and keeper Manuel Neuer -- and had suffered five defeats in six preseason games -- so it was never going to be easy.
With the first silverware up for grabs, Bayern got the job done, reserving their best performance for the most important game so far this season.
By silencing the "Yellow Wall" and seeing off their biggest rivals in Dortmund's own backyard, depleted Bayern laid down a marker for the forthcoming 55th Bundesliga campaign. Bayern remain overwhelming favourites to clinch a sixth straight league title in April 2018.
After conceding 14 goals in those five preseason losses, it was no surprise to see Bayern let in a couple more on Saturday night. Without the calm and reassuring presence of Neuer behind them, the defence looks porous.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Italian maestro Carlo Ancelotti must have almost raised an eyebrow at Bayern's preseason form, but finally got some relief after securing his second consecutive Super Cup, celebrating with his jubilant players at the end as if he had just won the Champions League.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sven Ulreich, 9 -- Deputising for Neuer, stand-in Ulreich had no chance on any of the goals. However, the ex-Stuttgart keeper twice dived to his right in the shootout to win the day and earn plaudits, just as Bayern's new captain Neuer has so often in the past.
DF Rafinha, 6 -- He let no one down, posting a solid and reliable shift after replacing the injured David Alaba at left-back. Showed versatility once again too.
DF Mats Hummels, 7 -- A BVB stalwart for eight and half years, Hummels put in a classy performance at the heart of the Bayern defence, keeping Aubameyang in check for long periods.
DF Javi Martinez, 5 -- The Spaniard normally reserves his best for BVB -- the 2013 Champions League final and the German Cup final the next year immediately spring to mind. However, Martinez was caught horribly in possession tonight to gift BVB the lead and looked below his best during his hour's shift before hobbling off with a muscle injury. He injured knee ligaments three years ago in this equivalent game -- virtually ruining a whole season -- so Martinez and Bayern will hope for better fortune this time around.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 8 -- Full of running at right-back, where he is expected to take over from legend Philipp Lahm, Kimmich fed Lewandowski with an inch-perfect cross for his goal and was heavily involved in the goalmouth scramble/melee for the dramatic equaliser with time running out.
MF Sebastian Rudy, 8 -- The free transfer signing from Hoffenheim is already proving to be a great value. In Rudy's competitive debut, Ancelotti handed him the honour of going up for the coin toss as stand-in captain while Thomas Muller had his thumb bandaged. Rudy sent Kimmich on his way down the touchline, just beating the offside trap, if you believe the VAR, and let loose a powerful drive that Burki just barely kept out before halftime.
MF Corentin Tolisso, 6 -- Bayern's record signing toiled industriously on his competitive debut, getting close to giving Bayern the lead before halftime with a back-post header. Should have done better on 66 minutes but could offer only a tame finish.
MF Arturo Vidal, 6 -- The combative Chilean gave a typically wholehearted display, but was lucky to stay on the pitch after a couple of rash second-half challenges. He also put Martinez in trouble with a hasty pass into danger.
MF Franck Ribery, 7 -- Now basking as Bayern's longest-serving player after the retirement of Lahm, the 34-year-old was full of life on the left-hand side, especially in the first half, before fading un petit peu in the second period.
MF Thomas Muller, 7 -- Captaining the side as the only Bavarian left after Lahm's retirement, Muller showed glimpses of his brilliance throughout. Denied by a reflex stop from Burki and followed up with a header, which kissed the wrong side of the post. Surprisingly taken off by Ancelotti despite having his best game for an eternity.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 6 -- Listless so far in preseason, Lewandowski clearly raised his game against his former employer. His close-range, tap-in equaliser was a formality; he should have doubled his tally in the second half but unselfishly chose to pass to no one in particular with the goal at his mercy. A mere 12 seconds later BVB went up the other end and Aubameyang fired the hosts ahead.
DF Niklas Sule, 7 -- Enjoyed a competitive debut when he came on for Martinez with 30 minutes to play. An ex-Hoffenheim defender, Sule played a pivotal role in the dramatic last-ditch equaliser, heading thunderously against the crossbar before a melee ensued and the ball somehow ended up in the net via Burki.
MF Kingsley Coman, 7 -- Had bright moments as Bayern came to life late on; Coman made a neat free-kick delivery for the 11th-hour 2-2.
MF Renato Sanches, NR -- Came on for seven minutes of frenzied racing about in no particular general direction as Bayern chased an equaliser. Too late for a rating.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.