Borussia Dortmund's women's handball team have been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal again. After elimination in the quarter-final last term, the last 16 proved to be the end of the road this time. They lost 26-24 (13-13) to Bayer Leverkusen. Lena Degenhardt also sustained a serious injury.

The scenario:
While BVB were only entering the competition at the last 16 stage, Leverkusen had qualified for this round thanks to a 34-22 victory away to TuS Linfort. The last home game in the DHB-Pokal came back on 8 January 2020, when BVB suffered a 29-27 defeat to SG BBM Bietigheim.

Personnel matters:
In addition to Dana Bleckmann, who is recovering from cruciate ligament surgery, coach Henk Groener was without captain Alicia Stolle, who sprained her ankle in a training session.

The match & analysis:
Everything boded well for BVB. Not only their home advantage in the DHB-Pokal for the first time in almost four years, but also their current form in the Bundesliga, where they are joint-top of the table with Bietigheim after three games. And then there's the head-to-head. The Werkself's last victory to date against BVB came back in September 2018. That was followed by eight defeats.

BVB started the game well. Barely 60 seconds had elapsed by the time Henk Groener's side had taken a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Zoe Sprengers and Frida Rønning. But that did not instill calmness. Quite the opposite: chaos, misplaced passes and overly hasty shots characterised the game. Five minutes later, Bayer led 4-2. Thanks to a good performance from goalie Sarah Wachter, BVB came back into it and pulled it back to 5-4 via goals from Emma Olsson and Lena Degenhardt. After 12 minutes, Groener called a first time-out with his team 6-4 down.

Substitute Harma van Kreij was very important in this phase. She kept BVB in the running, shone with some strong individual play and scored three goals in a row. The deficit stood at 9-7 after 20 minutes. BVB had to take big risks in defence and conceded several time penalties. In particular, the backcourt players Mariana Ferreira Lopes and Viola Leuchter repeatedly asserted themselves and opened up space for pivot Boeters in the process.

There was a collective sigh of relief five minutes before half-time as Harma van Kreij levelled at 12-12 after a stunning solo effort. Another goal from Mareike Kusian made the score 13-13 at the interval.

The second half also remained a hard-fought affair with a high number of mistakes. A real cup fight in which neither team managed to pull away decisively.

Swede Emma Olsson put BVB ahead for the second time in this match at the start of the second period, with the score 19-18 (40), but Jennifer Souza equalised straightaway. The nerves increased by the minute. Groener was cautioned, as was his opposite number Michael Biegler.

Lena Degenhardt injured herself and spent several minutes down on the court before being carried to the changing rooms. Another blow for BVB, who fell further and further behind from the 50th minute onwards. With his team 24-21 down, BVB coach Groener called another time-out (53). Frida Rønning and Carmen Campos then pulled it back to 24-23, but it was not enough and the final score was 26-24. BVB were eliminated prematurely and surprisingly from the cup once again.

Coach Henk Groener: "We were not clever enough in the phase in which we could've turned the game around. We didn't make use of our double power play. That's bitter. But what's even more bitter is the loss of Lena Degenhardt, that doesn't look good. We didn't disappoint with our fighting spirit but we did in terms of our play and we didn't show the finishing that is required to win against Leverkusen."

The Bundesliga campaign continues on Saturday 7 October with an away trip to Solingen-Gräfrath.

Women's handballers: Lieder, Wachter; Hausherr (1/1), Sprengers (5/1), Kusian (3), Antl, Degenhardt (1), van Kreij (5), Ossenkopp, Sasaki, Olsson (2), Rønning (3), Campos (4), von der Wiede