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Nkunku propels Leipzig into German Cup semi-finals


Hanover (Germany) (AFP) – Christopher Nkunku continued his hot streak by scoring twice on Wednesday as Leipzig cruised into the German Cup semi-finals with a 4-0 victory at second-division Hanover. 

Also on Wednesday, Hamburg fought back from two goals down to beat Karlsruhe on penalties in a battle of fallen giants.

Frenchman Nkunku has scored in each of Leipzig’s last four Bundesliga games and took his tally to 11 since the start of January with goals in the 17th and 22nd minutes. 

Both goals came on the counter-attack, for the first Nkunku sidestepped a defender on the edge of the box and guided a shot into the corner of the net. For the second, he outpaced the defence and skipped round keeper Ron-Robert Zieler

Konrad Laimer added two more in the second half.

With the three clubs above them in the Bundesliga — Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Leverkusen — already eliminated, Leipzig are the highest-placed club left in the competition as they chase the first major trophy in their history. 

In a meeting of two former German Cup winners now playing in the second division, Hamburg fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 and then won the shootout 3-2.

Karlsruhe jumped to a two-goal after 51 minutes in Hamburg with strikes by Philip Heise and Philipp Hofmann.

A minute after the visitors’ second goal, Robert Glatzel headed in for the home team.

In the 72nd minute, Christophe Kobald gave away a penalty for a trip and also earned a second yellow card.

Visiting goalkeeper Marius Gersbeck saved Sonny Kittel’s spot kick but Glatzel levelled in added time from a cross by Bakery Jatta.

After a goalless extra time, Gersbeck saved Hamburg’s first kick of the shoot out, but his opposite number, Daniel Fernandes, saved three in a row and Glatzel converted the winner.

On Tuesday, Union Berlin qualified by beating St Pauli 2-1. 

Bundesliga pair Bochum and Freiburg face off in the last quarter-final later on Wednesday. 

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