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Youth football

4-2 final defeat: Borussia's great spirit not rewarded

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Borussia Dortmund's U19s have missed out on the title hat-trick they were hoping for and have lost a memorable final of the German A-Junior Championship 4-2 to FSV Mainz 05 after extra-time. The Rhenish Hesse outfit thus repeated their triumph from 2009, when they beat BVB 2-1 in the final.

Mike Tullberg opted to make a change compared to the line-up in the semi-final: Kjell Wätjen, the captain of the U17s, made his debut in the starting XI and played in the centre-left midfield position alongside Vasco Walz and Michel Ludwig. Filippo Mane was still unavailable, with Hendry Blank continuing at the heart of defence in his stead.

Mainz coach Benjamin Hoffmann was forced to replace his suspended regular goalie Aki Koch, whose place between the sticks was taken by Louis Babatz. Young pro Nelson Weiper, who had been in the Bundesliga squad for the 3-1 triumph over FC Bayern the day before, lined up alongside Brajan Gruda in attack for the juniors and predominantly found himself up against BVB captain Nnamdi Collins. The two biggest chances in the first period fell to the forward. He fired the ball over the bar from very close range in the 25th minute. Then, four minutes later, he had a shooting opportunity from a completely unmarked position after Maxim Dal had struck the woodwork with a shot from 18 metres, but could not make it 1-0.

BVB had registered the first major opportunity of an intense match when Samuel Bamba got the better of Tim Müller and Jason Amann and then rounded off a solo run with a thumping strike, only to be denied by the outstanding reactions of Louis Babatz (19). The Dortmund players, who struggled with the high pressing from Mainz for long spells and made several passing errors in their attempts to switch the play, could not find their usual rhythm. They allowed Mainz to gain the upper hand and at times looked taken aback by the aggressive tackling and determination from the opposition, who had been perfectly set up by Benjamin Hoffmann.

However, the Black & Yellows continued to create chances. Julian Rijkhoff, who had been well marked up until that point, registered his first shot shortly before the break but the situation was thwarted at the last moment by Babatz. "You sense from the team that this is not a game like any other. We need to be calmer and more confident in the second period," said BVB Youth Performance Centre Director Lars Ricken at the break.

But Mainz continued in the ascendancy after the restart and pushed Borussia onto the defensive. The home side were rewarded for their attacking intent in the 54th minute: Nelson Weiper, who had beaten Collins, struck the left upright and Lovis Bierschenk fired the rebound into the net. BVB looked determined to hit back in the period that followed. The lively Samuel Bamba beat his marker down the right flank but very narrowly missed the target from a tight angle.

Mike Tullberg responded by making a substitution after the hour mark, bringing on Vinzenco Onofrietti and Rafael Lubach in place of Michel Ludwig and Kjell Wätjen. Onofrietti announced himself with a promising shot from 20 metres out. In the closing stages, Tullberg even pushed Nnamdi Collins into attack to operate as a target man – a measure that proved successful. Collins caused problems for goalkeeper Babatz following a long ball and Cole Campbell, who had just come off the bench, headed home to level the scores at 1-1.

It marked the start of a dramatic finish in which things happened thick and fast. Nnamdi Collins scored an unfortunate own goal following a spectacular piece of individual play from Weiper (86). Then, 90 seconds later, Paris Brunner countered, skilfully lobbed Babatz and earned his team 30 minutes of extra-time (88).

The energy levels dropped on both sides in extra-time, but that did not diminish the tension. Julian Rijkhoff was first thwarted by Babatz (103), before Campbell struck the ball against the crossbar following Rothe's cross (107). But Mainz were more clinical: substitute Dardari fired home following an assist from the impressive Götze to make it 3-2 in the 112th minute. Dortmund, however, still did not give up and drew upon their remaining energy reserves. The unmarked Nnamdi Collins had a shot from close range – but fired the ball over the target. Then Degtjarevs rounded off the scoring for Mainz in the fourth minute of stoppage time to make it 4-2 and seal the title for the Zero-Fivers.

Reactions

Mike Tullberg: "It was a great final, the best advert for junior football. We were fortunate to take it into extra time but then failed to take two big chances and go in front. Congratulations to Mainz. They're doing a very good job in their youth set-up. You could sense that the team absolutely wanted to become champions in front of their own fans. We've played an outstanding season and can be proud of what we've achieved. It's difficult for me to find the words to console my boys."

Benjamin Hoffmann (Mainz 05 coach): "Incredible what the boys did. That's the crowning moment of a great season. Respect and compliments to BVB, who were a worthy opponent in this hard-fought and intensive match."

Jens Nowotny (DFB coach): "The Mainz attack was really dangerous. Borussia did not manage to neutralise the strong strikers. They could've scored even more goals. With that in mind, it was ultimately a fair result in a great junior match."

BVB: Kirsch – Cisse, Collins, Blank, Rothe – Walz – Bamba (Campbell, 81), Ludwig (Lubach, 62), Wätjen (Onofrietti, 62), Brunner (Simic, 102) – Rijkhoff.

(wiwi)