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U19s reach the final of the German Championship after penalty shoot-out

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Borussia Dortmund's U19s won the second leg of their semi-final against Hertha BSC 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw in regulation time to reach the final of the U19 German Championship for the 12th time in club history.

Their opponents in the final will be TSG Hoffenheim, who beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 6-2 and 4-0 in the other semi-final. The final will be played on Thursday (30 June) at the Niederrheinstadion in Oberhausen. ‘The fact that this clash was decided on penalties reflects the quality of both teams. 2-2 in the first leg and 3-3 in the second leg were fair results. It was great to see that our boys were more than capable of holding their own against an extremely strong Berlin team. Their morale, team unity and individual quality were remarkable. This was an advert for youth football," said BVB managing director for sport Lars Ricken in praise of the team.

A crowd of 4,950, including many BVB fans, witnessed a thrilling and high-quality match at Berlin's Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark. Borussia fell behind 1-0 early on but stormed into a 3-0 lead thanks to two goals by Kjell Wätjen and one by Cole Campbell. But Hertha struck back in the second half to make it 3-3 and BVB found themselves down to ten players late on when Rafael Lubach was shown a second yellow card. But Dortmund were not to be denied in the subsequent penalty shoot-out, with Robin Lisewski saving the first Berlin spot-kick - and in the end Black & Yellows were the team left celebrating in the historic Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark.

‘I'm really proud of my guys, who put in an outstanding team performance. I feel a little sorry for Hertha. They were the strongest team we've played at domestic level in recent years," said a beaming coach Mike Tullberg, who also voiced his respect for BVB's opponents in the final, Hoffenheim: "We are going into the final as slight underdogs, but this role suits us." TSG, who defeated BVB 6-0 earlier in the season, will play SC Freiburg in the DFB-Pokal final next Friday.

Wätjen shines with two goals 

BVB captain Filippo Mane returned to the starting XI and partnered Leonardo Posadas in the centre of defence. Hertha BSC were able to strengthen their squad with Tim Hoffmann, another player who has already played in the Bundesliga 2. "That didn't make our task any easier," commented Mike Tullberg, who had opted for a 4-4-2 formation. Kjell Wätjen played in midfield in the number-ten role, while Rafael Lubach played as a number six.

The game took a similar course to the first leg. Hertha controlled the ball and pinned their opponents back, but Borussia, who defended with great resolve, were able to create the better chances. Paris Brunner had a good sight of goal in the 4th minute, but his effort whizzed just over the crossbar. Berlin's Tim Goller then saved his team from going behind with a strong reaction save with his feet to deny Brunner. "I was a bit frustrated because we weren't able to capitalise on our opportunities early in the game and then we invited Berlin on to score the opening goal," admitted Tullberg.

Leonardo Posadas carelessly gave the ball away to Oliver Rölke in the 34th minute. Hertha's top striker capitalised ruthlessly on the opportunity and left goalkeeper Robin Lisewski with no chance. Dortmund weren't trailing for long: Kjell Wätjen burst forward down the right flank and, exactly 91 seconds after the Hertha goal, completed a spectacular solo action with a brilliant shot into the far corner after playing a one-two with Cole Campbell. Wätjen almost grabbed a second shortly before the break, but he was unable to keep his curling effort down after being teed up by Brunner.

At the start of the second half, Wätjen made up for his missed chance before the break. It was the result of a fantastic crossfield ball from Campbell to Brunner, who rounded Goller and hit the post from an acute angle. Wätjen was in the right place and fired the rebound into the net to open up a 2-1 lead. Two minutes later, Cole Campbell increased the lead to 3-1 after preparatory work from Brunner and Onofrietti.

Black & Yellows ice cold from the spot

However, similar to BVB in the first half, Berlin responded well to going behind, hitting a new gear in their attacking play. Lukas Michelbrink beat four Dortmund defenders before slipping the ball to Jelani Ndi, who finished to make it 3-2 (59). Hertha continued to press and were rewarded for their hard work with the equaliser. Ibrahim Maza played a ball over the Dortmund defence and Oliver Rölke finished to draw the two sides level at 3-3.

The closing stages were frenetic: Lisewski narrowly avoided scoring an own goal (81), Brunner was wrongly whistled back when he stole the ball from Goller and had a clear route towards the Berlin goal, and Rafael Lubach, who had already been cautioned in the 10th minute for a foul on Maza, was shown a second yellow card in the 83rd minute for pushing Elyas Strasner too hard. "We cleared everything they threw at us in our defensive block," said a delighted double goalscorer Kjell Wätjen.

After the final whistle, the game went straight to penalties. BVB keeper Lisewski saved the first spot-kick from Jelani Ndi, laying the foundation for the eventual victory. Danylo Krevsun, Leonardo Posadas, Kjell Wätjen, Paris Brunner and Cole Campbell all converted their penalties to send BVB into the final of the U19 German Championship for the fourth season in a row. "We still have a score to settle against Hoffenheim, and we want to settle it now," declared Kjell Wätjen.

U19s: Lisewski – Rashidi (46, Korzynietz, 86, Benkara), Mane (72, Meiser), Posadas, Kabar – Wätjen, Lubach – Onofrietti (62, Herrmann), Krevsun, Campbell – Brunner.