The BVB women's handball team battled to their next two points in the EHF Champions League on Sunday afternoon. The Black & Yellows won 32-31 at home to Croatian club Klub Podravka Vegeta, whom they had already beaten in the reverse fixture.
BVB did not start the match well. The visitors from Croatia were already 2-0 ahead at the five-minute mark, by which point the Black & Yellows had already made three misthrows and lost Kelly Dulfer to a neck problem. The Dutchwoman was replaced by Dana Bleckmann. Though they were level within two minutes thanks to a powerful Inger Smits throw from the back area and a lovely Merel Freriks goal from the circle, the Dortmund ladies spurned many chances that would have enabled them to make a better start to the game.
Alina Grijseels missed a seven-metre throw on 13 minutes, but the Borussia captain converted the follow-up to draw the home side level at 5-5. Podravka immediately went 6-5 up (16) and Grijseels had to leave the court due to a time penalty. BVB goalkeeper Yara ten Holte made a very important save to deny the visitors while Borussia were a woman down, but they continued to be hindered by misplaced throws in attack.
André Fuhr switched things up after 18 minutes and opted to deploy Kelly Dulfer, who had by now returned to the court, in the zone, with Laura van der Heijden, Inger Smits and Dana Bleckmann now occupying the back area. But however well André Fuhr's charges did to create chances, the ball just would not go in. Around the 20-minute mark, Kelly Vollebregt struck the woodwork from the right flank and Podravka subsequently made it 10-7.
André Fuhr called for a time out – and it seemed to do Dortmund good. Inger Smits and Laura van der Heijden notched goals eight and nine respectively with lovely throws from the back area, before Yara ten Holte made an important save from a seven-metre throw and Merel Freriks made it 10-10 on the counter in the 23rd minute. Goals from Inger Smits and saves from Yara ten Holte kept BVB in the game in the final minutes of the opening period. The Black & Yellows then took the lead for the first time in the 28th minute of the match when Laura van der Heijden made it 12-11 from the back area, and Borussia took in a narrow 13-12 lead at the break.
Inger Smits and Laura van der Heijden clinical in front of goal
The second half started optimally from a Dortmund viewpoint. Laura van der Heijden upped the lead to 14-12, before Johanna Stockschläder put the hosts three goals ahead for the first time on the counter (15-12, 32). However, Podravka took advantage of a time penalty imposed upon Alina Grijseels and narrowed the deficit to one goal (18-17, 37).
But the game was over for the Borussia Dotmund captain when she received her third two-minute penalty in the 43rd minute. Podravka then restored parity at 21-21 from a seven-metre throw. Now a woman up, the visitors man-marked the excellent Inger Smits and soon took a 23-22 lead with a goal from the right flank (46).
The game remained tight, and the lead changed hands again in the 50th minute when Tina Abdulla made it 26-25 from seven metres. No matter how often Inger Smits and Laura van der Heijden converted spectacularly for BVB, Podravka would always find gaps in their defence and stay within striking distance. With the Black & Yellows 30-29 in front with five minutes to go, Podravka called for a time-out. Two strong saves from Rinka Duijndam made up for Dortmund's errors going forward and an Inger Smits throw from a standing position made for a 31-30 lead (58).
Following a technical mistake from the visitors, BVB had the chance to take a two-goal lead. But Tina Abdulla missed a penalty throw that had been won by Merel Freriks. Podravka levelled at 31-31, only for Laura van der Heijden to surge through and make it 32-31 for Borussia. The following attack from the visitors culminated in a direct free throw that was blocked by the Borussia wall, and BVB hung on to secure their second Champions League victory.
"We fought really well as a team," declared Inger Smits after the final whistle. "We're delighted to have picked up two Champions League points at home for the first time. That's a very special moment for our club," explained a satisfied André Fuhr.
Having already claimed a narrow 26-25 victory over Podravka last September, this latest win against the Croatian club gives the Black & Yellows their third and fourth Champions League points. Up next for coach André Fuhr's charges is a Bundesliga match in midweek. The BVB women will be aiming to extend their flawless start when they travel to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
BVB women's handball team: Duijndam, Roch, ten Holte; Grijseels (3), van der Heijden (8), van Zijl, Smits (8), Abdulla (6/4), Stockschläder (2), Freriks (4), Dulfer, Rode, Bleckmann, Vollebregt (1), Gutiérrez Bermejo