U19s win 2-1 to reach Youth League round of 16
Borussia's U19s have reached the UEFA Youth League round of 16 again. The team won 2-1 against Hibernian in a turbulent play-off match watched by almost 10,000 spectators in Edinburgh and will be in the pot when the draw for the next round of Europe's elite junior competition takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on 13 February.
"I'm so happy that we've managed it," beamed coach Mike Tullberg after the final whistle. He and his team had to survive a dramatic finale in which the hosts went close from a free-kick and then hit the upright following a corner. Defender Hendry Blank had earlier come on as a substitute and scored what proved to be the winning goal to seal a much-celebrated 2-1 victory within normal time.
At the break, however, it did not look as though there would be a happy ending for the Black & Yellows. Mike Tullberg had warned about the Scots' direct switch play, their mobile forwards and their set-pieces. "And then what should not have happened did happen," said a frustrated Tullberg. After an unnecessary foul by Samuel Bamba and a free-kick from Robbie Hamilton, Jacob Blasey beat Filippo Mane in an aerial challenge and headed the hosts ahead (26).
BVB struggled to find their rhythm in the game. The Black & Yellows allowed themselves the simplest losses of possession, committed a multitude of passing errors and were their own worst enemy for long spells. The biggest threat to the Scots came via Dortmund's first corner-kick in the 31st minute, which was taken by Göktan Gürpüz and turned over the bar by goalkeeper Murray Johnson. "There was no depth to our game," rued Mike Tullberg.
The team reappeared for the second half seemingly transformed. The body language was different, the intensity much higher and the passing game more precise. Tullberg switched to a 3-4-3 in order to apply more attacking pressure. Fresh legs were also introduced later on – first with U17 players Cole Campbell and Rafael Lubach, then with Michel Ludwig and Hendry Blank. An incident in the 48th minute demonstrated that Hibernian's solid back line could be hurt: the lively Paris Brunner broke through on the right and fed Julian Rijkhoff, but goalie Johnson thwarted the danger with a strong save.
Rijkhoff and Blank turn the game around
But BVB had their opponents under control for most of the second half in front of almost 10,000 spectators at Easter Road Stadium. Then they let their quality shine. And they got their reward in the 70th minute. After a moment of defensive hesitation by goalkeeper Johnson, Owen Hastie handled the ball and Rijkhoff clinically converted the penalty.
Borussia pushed the Scots back deep into their own half and pressed for a second goal before the end of normal time, which eventually came in the 90th minute: Brunner ran into the penalty area and his clever cutback was fired into the net by substitute Blank. "The tactical and personnel changes turned the game in our favour," said the happy coach.
But that would not be the final action of a hectic finale. Silas Ostrzinski deflected a free-kick over the crossbar in the sixth minute of stoppage time thanks to a combination of fortune and skill, then BVB were spared by the post from the ensuing corner. When the whistle sounded after 97 minutes, Black & Yellows celebrations erupted at Easter Road.
The round of 16 will take place on 28 February or 1 March.
BVB: Ostrzinski – Cisse, Collins, Mane – Bamba (Campbell, 68), Walz (Lubach, 68), Kamara, Gürpüz (Ludwig, 81), Aning (Blank, 81)– Brunner, Rjkhoff.