Those who watched the Swiss Cup finals between Grasshoppers Zürich and Tigers Langnau knew they were witnesses to one of the most epic matches of the season. The finals counted 16 goals, one red card, overtime and needed 14 penalty shots to decide the winner.
There are plenty examples of finals where nerves kill creativity and individual assertiveness. This was most definitely not the case in today’s Swiss Cup male finals. The goals were plentiful and the game swung back and forth like a swing on steroids. Underdog Tigers took an early 3-1 lead but before the end of the period Grasshoppers Zürich managed to fight their way back to an equal score.
In the second period both teams took the lead at least once while the other did everything could to bring the equalizer. The incredibly tight game was most characterized by the score progress: up until the final score neither team led with more than 1 goal difference. The game kept going back and forth for a while with a 6-5 lead for Langnau by the end of the second period which was somewhat surprising considering Grasshoppers seemed to be in control during most of the game.
After Grasshoppers took a 8-7 lead in the middle of the final period, the team tried to slow down the play, hoping the small lead would earn them the Cup. Then the game took a dramatic turn. With around 2 minutes left, Tigers topscorer Simon Flühmann received a 2-minute penalty for slashing but the real dramatic part came when he received a red card for pushing away an opponent in anger in the aftermath. The match looked incredibly grim from Tigers’ perspective, who not only had to score at least once to tie the game but also had to somehow survive 7 minutes of boxplay. In the final minutes of the game, the team managed just this. At the first opportunity they pulled their goalkeeper to play 5 vs 5 and miraculously equalized. One minute later, regular time was over.
For Grasshoppers, the task seemed easy enough: 6 minutes of (sudden-death) powerplay to score once. But somehow this was too much for the tired Grasshopper players. The players drowned in passivity and lacked decisiveness which was fuel for the engines of the defending Langnau players who grew in their roles over time. The team defended successfully and in the remaining minutes of the overtime, both teams received a couple of good chances but either missed or were denied by the goalkeepers.
Technically, the penalty shootout