A dramatic silver goal extra time winner from Benjamin Wess clinched a place in the final four for Rot-Weiss Köln as they fought back from behind to edge out German rivals Mulheim in the KO16.
An entertaining game was never short of incident or talking points as the two sides traded chances in a game that could easily have seen more goals scored.
Rot Weiss were the first to threaten as Tibor Weissenborn threaded the ball through to Marco Miltkau. Clean through with just the goalkeeper to beat the No.22 somehow pulled his shot wide of the post to let Mulheim off the hook. Minutes later, Philipp Zeller’s long pass out of defence was deflected by Jan-Marco Montag into the path of Miltkau. He turned the last defender and with just Felix Reuss to beat he inexplicably scooped his shot way over the crossbar.
Mulheim took the lead towards the end of the quarter. A Thilo Stralkowski penalty corner hit the defender on the line and Jan-Philipp Rabente duly despatched the resultant penalty stroke past international team mate Max Weinhold.
Daniel Montag created a great chance for Christoph Menke but the latter’s slapped shot was well saved by Reuss, but the goal was coming. It came despite some heroic goalkeeping from the Mulheim Christopher Zeller penalty corner before the follow up was half cleared by Jannick Otto. It fell kindly for Jan-Marco Montag who drilled his shot goalwards, Reuss got something on it but it was too powerful and crept over the goal line for 1-1.
With Philipp Zeller confined to the sin-bin Mulheim took advantage and regained the lead. Benjamin Wess was unable to control a bouncing ball in the D allowing Stralkowski to hit an excellent upright reverse stick shot into the far corner giving Weinhold no chance at all.
Rot Weiss put their opponents under huge pressure in the fourth quarter as they went in search of the equaliser that would take the game to extra time. They had to wait until there were just seven minutes left before their pressure paid off. Christopher Zeller scored a terrific penalty corner hitting the roof of the net with Reuss barely able to react to keep the flick out. The game headed to sliver goal extra time. Stralkowski wasted a fantastic chance to put his side back in the lead but sent his shot wide of the target, a miss he would rue at the end of the game. With 40 seconds of the half left, Philipp Zeller played the ball into the D at the second attempt; Benjamin Wess had found some space and coolly diverted the ball into the bottom corner for what turned out to be the winning goal. There was still time for Philipp Zeller to be shown a red card after a second foul worthy of a yellow card, but by then it was too late for Mulheim to react.
Rot-Weiss take their array of superstars into the Final Four in May where they will play the winner of Beeston vs. Bloemendaal. Whoever they draw will have their work cut out to overcome this determined and skilful German outfit.