Less than 24 hours after a bomb attack on their team bus, Borussia Dortmund took to the field Wednesday in a poignant Champions League quarterfinal encounter with Monaco.
Dortmund were understandably subdued in the first half and despite improving after the break they suffered a 3-2 first-leg loss — their first home defeat in 21 matches.
German media had questioned rearranging the match so quickly after three explosives had shattered windows and injured Dortmund defender Marc Bartra en route to the Westfalenstadion for a tie which was originally to be played Tuesday.
UEFA official Giorgio Marchetti told CNN Sport Wednesday that he had not encountered “nothing of this nature” before.
Despite the unusual circumstances the match went ahead under tightened security, with the motives and the identity of the attackers still unknown.
Admitting that this was the most difficult situation the club had faced in decades, Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said the club would “not bend before terror.”
The team, said Watzke, would “play for everyone,” though Dortmund initially struggled to contain one of the most potent frontlines on the continent, falling two goals behind before the break — one of them an own goal — with Monaco also missing a penalty.
Dortmund regrouped after the break — scoring through Ousmane Dembele and Shinji Kagawa — in an entertaining encounter in which French teenager Kylian Mbappe shone, scoring twice to give the Ligue 1 leaders the advantage going into the second leg.
Unsurprisingly, security was tightened for the match following an incident German chancellor Angela Merkel had described as “repugnant.”
Earlier in the day, German authorities said they suspected “terrorist involvement” and were investigating a possible radical Islamist link to the attack which happened 90 minutes before Tuesday’s scheduled kickoff and about six miles from Dortmund’s stadium.
Fans were told to expect longer waiting times to enter the Westfalenstadion and were not allowed to take backpacks into the arena, while state interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, Ralf Jaeger, said police numbers had been increased significantly in the city.
German Football Association (DFB) president, Reinhard Grindel — who had planned to attend Wednesday’s game between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid — was said to be in attendance.