Borussia Dortmund's U23s claimed a 3-1 win away to Viktoria Köln thanks to goals from Ayman Azhil (14), Michael Eberwein (27) and Ole Pohlmann (51). The Black & Yellow youngsters had to play with 10 men for almost an hour after Julian Hettwer was red-carded for a professional foul. The BVB reserves are now in fifth position in the 3. Liga and are on an eight-match unbeaten streak – longer than all the other teams in the division.

The scenario: Coach Jan Zimmermann's team had not lost a match in seven rounds, having restarted very well after the winter break with victories against the top teams Jahn Regensburg and Dynamo Dresden. Despite the many absentees in recent weeks, the U23s had regularly picked up points and were undefeated since their 2-0 loss away to FC Erzgebirge Aue in November 2023. BVB had already picked up 15 points away from home, while for their part Viktoria had amassed 21 points on home turf. The Cathedral City club went into the match in 13th place.

Personnel matters: Coach Zimmermann fielded a slightly altered starting line-up compared to the win away to Dynamo Dresden. Marcel Lotka replaced Silas Ostrzinski in goal, while Falko Michel made way for Ole Pohmann.

The match & analysis: The home team applied pressure from the start, but the Black & Yellows had the first chance of the game. It was Michael Eberwein who reached a cross with the tips of his toes, guiding the ball past the keeper but wide of the mark.

BVB waited for possession giveaways and were rewarded in the 14th minute. Ayman Azhil was played clean through on visiting keeper Ben Voll by Franz Roggow and opened the scoring with a clinical lob. Julian Hettwer was presented with a chance to make it 2-0 six minutes later. Azhil set in the wing forward in motion with a perfect pass, but this time Viktoria goalie Voll came out on top.

The Black & Yellows extended their lead in the 27th minute. Michael Eberwein won the battle in the centre and headed home. Hettwer had played the cross into the six-yard box. Viktoria mostly posed a threat down the left flank, where Sidny Lopes Cabral caused plenty of problems. But the Black & Yellow youngsters held their own and executed their own attacks intelligently.

Luca Marseiler broke free down the left on the stroke of half-time and picked out Suheyel Najar with a cross, who slotted home to reduce the deficit (44). The score was 2-1 at the interval.

Köln made a forceful start to the second period and had a major opportunity to level the scores through central defender Michael Schultz following a corner in the 50th minute, but his header hit the woodwork. BVB immediately countered and Azhil dribbled his way through the Viktoria rearguard before teeing up Ole Pohmann, who converted from six metres out to make it 3-1 to BVB. A short while later, the home team countered quickly following a BVB corner. Köln's Najar was felled by Hettwer and referee Erbst brandished a red card for a professional foul. BVB were now down to 10 men against a Köln side applying furious pressure.

In the 68th minute, Marcel Lotka denied former Borussia player Lars Dietz the chance to pull another goal back. With the man advantage, Köln subsequently posed a threat via set-pieces but failed to create chances. Most of Köln's attacking attempts were seen off by the Black & Yellow defence. Lotka only had to intervene on one more occasion during Viktoria's final offensive. The Black & Yellows got lucky when a long-range shot right at the end was kept out by the post.

Jan Zimmermann was highly satisfied with his team's performance: "We controlled the game quite well in the first few minutes; after that, it developed into a very open game in which both teams repeatedly found themselves in promising situations. There could have been several more goals too. We got a red card in the phase in which we almost conceded the equaliser and then actually sealed the result with the goal to make it 3-1. After that, we defended in a very, very dedicated manner, just as we did last week. It could have been close again at that point. In the end, it was a very good performance against a really strong team."

Outlook: SC Preußen Münster will travel to the Rote Erde to play a rescheduled Matchday 20 clash on Tuesday. Kick-off is at 19:00 CET; tickets from the original date in December remain valid.

U23s: Lotka – Aidonis, Pfanne, Suver, Semic – Roggow (Otuali, 80), Pohlmann (Tattermusch, 80), Azhil – Elongo-Yombo, Eberwein, Hettwer

Goals: 0-1 Azhil (14), 0-2 Eberwein (27), 1-2 Najar (44), 1-3 (Pohlmann (51)

Red cards: Hettwer (59)