1,300 spectators were present at Sportpark Höhenberg to watch an intense 90 minutes of football. When all was said and done, it was the Borussia Dortmund U23s who left the pitch 3-1 (2-1) down on the scoreboard. Herbert Bockhorn got the only goal of the match for the Black and Yellows. The race for promotion seems all but decided.
Timo Lammert reporting from Cologne
Before the match, Borussia Dortmund were the team closest in the table to league leaders Viktoria Cologne, with the Rhinelanders holding an eight point lead over the Black and Yellows. The next closest contenders, RW Oberhausen, were able to win 2-0 in their home match on Friday against Alemannia Aachen. The BVB - Viktoria Cologne fixture in the first half of the season ended 2-2 at the Rote Erde Stadium, with Dominik Wanner grabbing a brace for Borussia.
Sebastian Rode and Dzenis Burnic dropped down once more from the first team squad to start for the U23s. Borussia lined up in a 5-3-2 formation. Denzeil Boadu was the last man at the back for Dortmund, playing almost as a sweeper.
The first half:
It didn't take long for both sides to find their flow. The early stages saw plenty of attacking football, with chances for both sides in the first five minutes. Boyamba narrowly missed for Dortmund, with Bunjaku doing the same for Cologne. In the 10th minute, Rode had two goal scoring opportunities in quick succession, but he fired the ball over the bar on both occasions. BVB were starting to take control of the match and took a deserved 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. Some excellent work from Joseph Boyamba set up Herbert Bockhorn, who fired an unstoppable effort into the far corner.
In the 33rd minute, Rode had a golden opportunity to build on the lead, but his shot was deflected behind for a corner after a magnificent reflex save from the goalkeeper. Shortly afterwards, the opposition took the ball up the other end of the pitch and were awarded a soft penalty. Felix Backszat stepped up to convert it and make the score 1-1. Five minutes later, the midfielder grabbed another goal after he pounced on an individual mistake in the Dortmund defense to give Cologne a 2-1 lead. The scoreline was in no way a fair reflection of the game at this point. It had been a bitter five minutes from the perspective of the Black and Yellows.
The second half:
The second half got off to a more low-key start than the first. The home side were seeing plenty of the ball without creating much in the way of chances. The match became more hectic after 55 minutes, with Eric Oelschlägel forced into an excellent save to deny Derflinger. Three minutes later, Bockhorn was unable to beat Cologne goalkeeper Patzler.
The game became less and less fluid as the second half went on. A large number of small fouls brought an end to the attractive passing combinations witnessed in the first 45 minutes. In the 71st minute, Albert Bunjaku got a goal from nothing to make it 3-1. His effort from a rebound was helped on its way by a deflection, leaving Oelschlägel with no chance. Viktoria Cologne had a cushion and were now comfortably on top, with BVB enjoying only a few moments of respite in which they were able to launch attacks. There were no changes to the scoreline in what remained of the match, and so it was that BVB left the field of play as 3-1 losers. They will look back wistfully at the first half, when they could have come away with more. Viktoria were just more switched on at the most crucial moments.
There are two matches remaining before the winter break. SG Wattenscheid are the visitors next Saturday for the last home game of the year. Kick-off is at 14.00 CET in the Rote Erde Stadium.
BVB U23: Oelschlägel – Bockhorn, Pieper, Boadu (79. Pavlidis), Schwermann, Dieckmann – Burnic (62. Rente), Rode (72. Hanke), Ornatelli, – Rizzo, Boyamba
Goals: 0:1 Bockhorn (26.), 1:1 Backszat (35. FE), 2:1 Backszat (40.), 3:1 Bunjaku (72.)