Christopher Nkunku continued his free-scoring start to 2022 as Leipzig cruised into the semifinals of the German Cup with a 4-0 win over second-division club Hannover on Wednesday.
That gives Leipzig, founded just 12 years ago by drinks giant Red Bull, another good chance to win its first major trophy after twice finishing runner-up in the German Cup and in the Bundesliga.
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen — the league's top three — were all knocked out in the early rounds, leaving the path wide open for a new winner.
Nkunku scored twice in the space of five first-half minutes on incisive counterattacks to move to 25 goals in all competitions this season and 10 from 11 games in 2022. Konrad Laimer and Andre Silva extended Leipzig's lead in the second half.
Of the four semifinalists — Leipzig, Freiburg, Union Berlin and Hamburg — only second-division Hamburg has won the cup before, but not since 1987.
Roland Sallai seized on a defensive mistake to score in the last minute of extra time to give Freiburg a 2-1 win over Bochum in the only all-Bundesliga game in the quarterfinals.
Hamburg came through a bruising game with fellow second-tier team Karlsruhe thanks to two saves from Daniel Heuer Fernandes to win a penalty shootout 3-2 after a 2-2 draw.
Union Berlin beat St. Pauli 2-1 on Tuesday to reach the semifinals for the first time since it was runner-up in 2001. The semifinal draw is Sunday.