U23s win the penultimate game of the year on the club's 111th birthday. Maaßen's team beat Wuppertaler SV 3-0 (1-0). Steffen Tigges, Aday Ercan and Ansgar Knauff struck for BVB.
The scenario: With just 16 points from 18 games, WSV were fourth bottom of the table before the game, two points away from the drop zone. BVB are second in the table despite two draws from the last two games.
Personnel matters: BVB coach Enrico Maaßen opted to rotate and brought five new players into the starting eleven, with Haymenn Bah-Traore, Alaa Bakir, Philipp Harlass, Kolbeinn Finnsson and Patrick Osterhage coming in.
The match: The Black and Yellows had a lot of possession at the start of the match. Wuppertal defended with five at the back and gave Dortmund's attackers little space. Yet there were always gaps between the three central defenders, which BVB exploited. With ten minutes gone, Steffen Tigges had already had two shooting chances. Wuppertal were waiting to hit BVB on the counter, but lacked numbers in attack and so found little success. Borussia continued to play to their strengths, so it was only a matter of time before the first BVB goal came. It was another incisive through ball played to perfection by Patrick Osterhage that set up Steffen Tigges again. The captain struck from around 10 yards out to give his side a 1-0 lead after just over 20 minutes. BVB were clearly on top in the game. Wuppertal looked highly ineffective going forward and did not manage a single goal shot in the first half. BVB goalkeeper Luca Unbehaun was rarely called upon.
BVB went into the second half unchanged in terms of personnel. With a lot of patience and trying to utilise the element of surprise, the Black and Yellows penned WSV into their own half. After a long ball from Unbehaun, Finnsson had the big opportunity for the second goal of the day in the 51st minute. The Iceland international's shot from the left hand side of the box, however, narrowly missed. After less than an hour, BVB coach Maaßen made his first changes, With Tobi Raschl and Aday Ercan coming on for Philipp Harlass and Patrick Osterhage. Wuppertal gradually grew in confidence, looking for opportunities to attack, increasingly from set-pieces, but BVB took advantage of the widening gaps and made it 2-0 in the 70th minute. Substitute Knauff set up his fellow sub Ercan, who slotted home into the far corner from close range. The game was put beyond any doubt, in part because it left Wuppertal visibly deflated. BVB managed the game well, certainly saving some energy and after 90 minutes left the pitch as deserved winners. They even made it 3-0 in the end when Ansgar Knauff was able to finish off a breath-taking counter-attack which involved Alaa Bakir and Steffen Tigges.
Reactions to the game:
Enrico Maaßen: "We kept a clean sheet and scored three goals. That is very positive. I think it took us a while to get going, but that's normal. Nevertheless, we were very, very much in control. We had to play it around them a bit to tire them out and create space. In the second half, we had more space. At the end of the day, there weren't a lot of chances for us to score, but we did very well."
Ansgar Knauff: "I'm very pleased. I came on, did well and started some good moves going forward. I got an assist straight away and then the goal. Today it was very good that we rotated our squad a little. We had already played two games in the last seven days, and I played 90 minutes in both. The fresh players, who perhaps have not played as much recently, did well. For today's game, it was important that we could bring in some pace off the bench."
Steffen Tigges: "Of course, we are happy that we won. It was hard work. Wuppertal made it difficult for us, they dropped deep. The 1-0 gives us security, but maybe we could have scored the second goal if we had been a bit more purposeful in the final third. With the second chance, we made it 2-0. That gave us a boost. In the end, of course, a deserved victory, but there was lot of work behind it."
Outlook: Next Tuesday will see the final game of the year. The U23s from Fortuna Düsseldorf will be the guests at the Fußballpark Hohenbuschei. Kick-off is at 17:30 CET.
Team & goals
BVB U23s: Unbehaun, Bah-Traore (Tachie, 79), Maloney, Hippe, Bakir, Tigges, Harlass (Raschl, 57), Finnsson (Knauff, 67), Pfanne, Dams, Osterhage (Ercan, 57).
Goals: 1-0 Tigges (22), 2-0 Ercan (70), 3-0 Knauff (89)