The Borussia Dortmund U23s beat their 1. FC Cologne counterparts 3-0 (1-0) away from home thanks to an extremely disciplined performance at the Franz-Kremer-Stadion. Captain Steffen Tigges (two) and Ansgar Knauff got the goals for BVB.
The scenario: Things got even tighter at the top of the table after BVB beat Alemannia Aachen and RW Essen drew in the first round of the year. Cologne sat in seventh place prior to kick-off with an impressive 31 points on the board.
Personnel matters: Captain Steffen Tigges, who had made a cameo appearance for the first team in Gladbach the night before, returned to the starting XI. Marco Hober was also reintroduced in place of the injured Patrick Osterhage.
The match & analysis: BVB settled into the match nicely. Richmond Tachie had the first chance after five minutes, though his strike from a tight angle was kept out by the Cologne custodian Julian Kahl. Dortmund put Effzeh under early pressure and repeatedly won back possession back. When they had the ball, the Black & Yellows played with confidence and purpose. Cologne grew into the game slightly more after a quarter of an hour, recording more possession and limiting Dortmund's flowing link-up play. Borussia's best chance so far fell to Tobi Raschl in the 24th minute. But after latching on to a headed flick-on from Steffen Tigges, the midfielder was denied by Kahl in a one-on-one.
BVB upped the pressure, and Cologne could hardly get the ball away. The BVB wide players consistently got down to the byline but the final pass wasn't quite right and the ball was mostly cleared away for a corner. But in the 30th minute, Steffen Tigges headed one of those corners into the Cologne net. It was a deserved lead for the Black & Yellows, who had clearly been in the ascendancy. Tigges also had the next opportunity on the 35-minute mark, although his strike from 20 metres out sailed narrowly wide of the upright and the half-time whistle sounded with the score still 1-1.
There were no personnel changes for BVB at the interval. Cologne were slightly more courageous in the second 45 minutes, but it was BVB who scored the next goal. Tobi Raschl's attempt to round off a sweeping counter-attack was kept out by Julian Kahl, but Ansgar Knauff slotted home the follow-up from close range to double the advantage. Effzeh made some attacking changes and created their first real chance in the 65th minute, Marvin Obuz's long-range effort forcing Stefan Drljaca to acrobatically turn the ball over the bar. The resultant corner was cleared away at the last minute. Drljaca made another outstanding stop only a few minutes later. BVB boss Enrico Maaßen made a double substitution in the 70th minute, with Moritz Broschinski and Alaa Bakir replacing Richmond Tachie and Tobi Raschl.
The final goal came from a BVB counter-attack during a period of sustained Cologne pressure. Moritz Broschinski outpaced the Cologne defence and picked out Steffen Tigges, whose strike secured the victory. The Black & Yellows looked like a true top team, combining defensive solidity with ruthless finishing in front of goal. Effzeh found themselves up against a well organised back line and themselves suffered from a lack of pace at the back.
The match reactions:
Steffen Tigges: "We wanted to go forward a lot but first and foremost we needed the intensity. Once you have that, then you can play football. Firstly, we need to run and work, and show the right attitude towards the game. We did that brilliantly from the first minute and scored the goals at the right moments. I'm happy to be playing in the U23s again as well. You can just see that the chemistry is right – both on and off the pitch. That's what sets us apart; everyone has moments in which they enhance our game."
Outlook: The Black in Yellows are next in action on Wednesday afternoon when they catch up on their postponed fixture in Mönchengladbach. Kick-off against the Foals' reserves is at 14:00 CET.
Teams & goals:
BVB U23s: Drljaca, Hippe, Dams, Maloney, Duman, Pfanne (Ercan, 80), Hober, Knauff (Wanner, 80), Raschl (Bakir, 70), Tachie (Broschinski, 70), Tigges
Goals: 0-1 Tigges (30), 0-2 Knauff (55), 0-3 Tigges (78)