• Kyodo


Shinji Kagawa had a hand in all three of his team’s goals as Borussia Dortmund whipped Genki Haraguchi and Hertha Berlin 3-0 in the semifinals of the German Cup on Wednesday night.

Gonzalo Castro, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were all on target to ensure Dortmund reached the final for the third year in a row to set up a showdown with Bayern Munich in Berlin on May 21.

Kagawa was involved in the first goal from Castro in the 21st minute. The Japan international crossed to Reus, whose shot on goal was blocked. The ball fell at the feet of Castro, who fired into the top right corner from the edge of the box.

A slip by John Brooks allowed Kagawa to counter and pick out Reus, who made it 2-0 with a sharp finish with 15 minutes left.

Kagawa also played a role in the third, passing to Reus, who burst into the box and set up Mkhitaryan for the simplest of finishes seven minutes from time.

“This win has a different kind of importance to the league. Everyone was very focused,” said Kagawa.

Dortmund is out of the Europa League and seven points behind Bundesliga leader Bayern with just four games remaining in the season.

But Kagawa reckons Dortmund has what it takes to beat Bayern and make it third time lucky after losing the 2014 final to Bayern and the 2015 final to Wolfsburg.

“If we can stay as focused as this in the final then we will give them a good game,” he said.

Dortmund won’t have an easy task in the final.

“It is very important to play in the final and to know that everything is possible in a final, even against Bayern Munich,” Dortmund manager Tomas Tuchel said.

“We will prepare for this game so that we can beat them. But we will have to play at our top level. It is very important that we are in the final — that was, and that is, what we are about,” he told Dortmund’s official website.

“However, I am not prepared to judge a whole season on whether we win the final or not. We definitely want to win this title, but so do Bayern.”

Haraguchi was naturally disappointed with the match, played in front of a crowd of over 76,000 at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.

“We wanted to go one step further, whatever it took,” said Haraguchi. “The whole of Berlin had pinned its hopes on us.”

Elsewhere, Japan Under-23 striker Yuya Kubo scored twice as Young Boys beat Luzern 3-2 in the Swiss first division.

United keeps hope alive

London AP

Manchester United’s pursuit of Champions League qualification gathered pace on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace that put the team in a strong position to exploit any mistakes by Arsenal or Manchester City.

With four games remaining, United is only two points behind third-place City and one behind Arsenal, which plays West Bromwich Albion on Thursday.

With United in touching distance of the top four Champions League places and through to the F.A. Cup semifinals, the season is not looking as bleak as it once did for manager Louis van Gaal.

United profited from an own goal in the fourth minute when Damien Delaney inadvertently turned a cross from Matteo Darmian into his own net.

Darmian did manage to score his first goal since joining United last year, a stunning left-footed strike that hit the post on the way into the net in the 55th minute.

“We should have finished it much earlier and scored much more goals,” Van Gaal said. “We created a lot of chances.”

But what will have troubled United’s hierarchy were the thousands of empty seats inside the usually packed 76,000-seat Old Trafford.

Saturday’s semifinal opponent, Everton, is in turmoil after being crushed 4-0 by Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.

Headers from Divock Origi and Mamadou Sakho gave Liverpool the lead right at the end of the first half.

But five after the break, Origi was carried off on a stretcher after his left foot was stamped on by Ramiro Funes Mori, who was sent off.

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