Last season's Cinderella team in the Bundesliga hoped to take a big step towards booking their tickets to Europe's premier club competition on Tuesday night, but a 3-1 defeat left them with a big mountain to climb.
Borussia Mönchengladbach went into the Champions League qualifying tie expecting a tough test from Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine.
Not only were Kyiv considered the toughest team in the draw, but Gladbach were embarking on only their second competitive game after having lost three key players in the summer transfer window, particularly the young midfield star Marco Reus who was tempted away by the champions, Dortmund.
Gladbach started the game brightly, creating four chances in the first dozen minutes, with only one forcing the Kyiv keeper into a save. In the 13th minute, Alexander Ring got his second chance - and this time made it count. The Finnish player took down a pass into the box from Juan Arango, settled the ball and pushed it inside the post, past the outstretched right arm of Maxym Koval.
Head coach Lucien Favre couldn't have asked for a better start from his team, which continued to control much of the ball through most of the first half hour.
Prior to the game Fravre had warned that Kyiv were a "very dangerous team with lots of potential and creativity." The Ukrainians proved him right beginning in the 27th minute, when Gladbach's young national team keeper Marc-André ter Stegen was forced to make a good save, pushing the ball over the bar.
However his defenders failed to deal sufficiently with the resulting corner. The ball was headed away but fell to the feet of Kyiv's captain, defender Taras Mikhalik. His shot from well outside the box took a deflection off a Borussia defender leaving ter Stegen without a chance. The goal, completely against the flow of play at that point, pulled the visitors level.
Complete change of momentum
Andriy Yarmolenko did much to quieten the home fans in the 36th minute when he took the ball into the penalty area to the left of ter Stegen, put on a couple of moves and confidently struck the ball into the back of the net to put the visitors up 2-1.
This completely changed the flow of the game - a confident Gladbach team suddenly looked a bit rattled, with passes that had been connecting, suddenly being blocked or missing their marks.
The second half began as the first had ended, with Kyiv looking the much more confident side, holding the ball much of the time. Soon though, the home side gingerly began to make the odd foray into Ukrainian territory, with the Borussia Park faithful urging them on.
Nothing came of their efforts until the hour mark, when Arango forced the Dynamo keeper into a good save. Koval stopped a second shot from the left midfielder two minutes later.
Kyiv on the other hand, appeared satisfied with their two away goals, bringing on a defensive midfielder, Ognjen Vukojevic to replace his more offensive Croatian countryman Niko Kranjcar in the 64th minute.
De Jong finds the back of the (wrong) net
Five minutes later coach Favre responded with two substitutions, bringing on striker Mike Hanke and midfielder Patrick Herrmann for Ring and Igor de Camargo.
After Favre made his final substitution, bringing off defensive specialist Harvard Nordveit in favor of attacking midfielder Tolga Cigerci, in the 74th Borussia seemed to gain new life, forcing Koval into another save.
For several minutes Gladbach pushed for the equalizer, but couldn't penetrate the Ukrainian defense. There was always the sense though, that Kyiv could strike back at any time and strike back they did - through an own goal by the Dutch national team striker Luuk de Jong. The 3-1 deficit, particularly the three away goals, made it a much higher mountain to climb for Borussia when they travel to Kyiv for the return match in a week's time.