The BVB women's handball team were narrowly beaten in their first Champions League match of 2021. The Black & Yellows did not get the reward for their fighting spirit as they went down 27-31 (15-15) away to Buducnost Podgorica.

The Champions League game away to Buducnost Podgorica could have gotten off to a better start for the Black & Yellows, with three goals conceded and two misthrows made in the opening minutes. BVB were aiming to avenge their narrow 26-28 defeat in the reverse fixture against the Montenegrin capital club, but several more misthrows and some technical errors saw the home side extend their advantage to 5-2 inside the opening 10 minutes. Coach André Fuhr called the first time-out shortly afterwards, and that seemed to do the players some good: once played resumed, two goals from captain Alina Grijseels and Laura van der Heijden brought Dortmund back into the game.

Kelly Dulfer had the chance to level the scores in the 16th minute, but missed her throw with Podgorica leading 6-7. But BVB did not let their heads drop and stuck at the task. Pivot Merel Freriks scored in the 20th minute to reduce the deficit to 9-10, at which point Buducnost's top scorer Allison Pineau was given a two-minute suspension. Merel Freriks took full advantage and restored parity at 10-10 in the 26th minute. Dulfer then put the BVB ahead for the first time only seconds later, whereupon Buducnost coach Milena Raicevic opted for the green card and called her first time out. Despite being a woman down after Dulfer was hit with a time penalty shortly before the interval, the Dortmund ladies showed their spirit as Alina Grijseels made it 13-12. The half-time whistle sounded shortly afterwards with the score at 15-15.

The start of the second half was a mirror image of the first period, with the hosts scoring quick goals on the one hand and BVB making misthrows and technical errors on the other hand. The Black & Yellows, who were 15-19 down by the 36th minute, were simply not on their game: Kelly Dulfer's attempt from the back area and Jennifer Rode's throw from the right flank went narrowly wide of the target, and when Merel Frerik had a chance from the edge of the zone, the referees decided on a technical error rather than a seven-metre throw.

"We expected more of ourselves"

Johanna Stockschläder showed the first sign of life for Borussia in the 40th minute when she scored from the left wing to make it 16-21. Shortly afterwards, Rinka Duijndam made an important stop from seven metres and Kelly Dulfer made it 17-21 following a one-two with Inger Smits (42). BVB fought their way back into the game, and two powerful throws from Smits later the score stood at 19-22 (47). Goalkeeper Isabell Roch saved the ensuing throw from Buducnost. Clara Monti Danielsson held the defence together, while Kelly Dulfer disrupted Buducnost early from her position leading the line. With 10 minutes remaining, Tina Abdulla rounded off a quick counter-attack to make it 22-24 – leaving the Black & Yellows only two goals behind. 

But Buducnost continued to convert their throws from impossible angles, with right winger Jovanka Radicevic alone scoring 10 goals for her team. BVB, meanwhile, hardly converted their chances in front of goal in the opening stages. Despite their battling spirit, Dortmund could no longer claw back the home side's lead and the final whistle sounded with the score at 27-31. "Buducnost deserved the victory today, as they did in the reverse fixture," admitted André Fuhr after the final whistle. "We expected more of ourselves, but we simply made too many mistakes. We now need to analyse that."

BVB now have a points total of 2-14 in Champions League Group B, where they occupy sixth place. Their campaign in Europe's elite competition continues at the weekend then they travel to Moscow. But before jetting off to the Russian capital, BVB have a Bundesliga match against Neckarsulmer Sport-Union in which they will be bidding to maintain their flawless start to the season.

BVB women's handball team: Duijndam, Roch, ten Holte; Grijseels (6/2), Monti Danielsson (2), van der Heijden (5), van Zijl, Smits (2), Abdulla (1), Stockschläder (1), Gutiérrez Bermejo (1), Freriks (3), Dulfer (5), Rode (1), Bleckmann