Borussia Dortmund v Monaco: Football fans unite for rescheduled Champions League quarter-final tie
Football fans came together in what was a unique situation as Borussia Dortmund hosted Monaco in their rearranged Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Signal Iduna Park.
The original tie, scheduled for Tuesday evening, was forced to be postponed just 15 minutes before kick-off following three explosions near the Dortmund team hotel as the team set off to the stadium.
One of the explosions hit the team bus with defender Marc Bartra needing emergency care at the scene before undergoing surgery later that evening on a broken bone in his wrist and to remove debris from his hand.
Local police described the incident as a "targeted attack on the BVB team bus" with police responding with increased numbers of staff and security checks around the ground, even six hours before the rescheduled 17:45 BST kick off on Wednesday.
Police informed fans that bags were not allowed inside the stadium but that did not stop the solidarity between the two sides with Dortmund creating a hashtag of #bedsforawayfans for any Monaco fans who did not have accommodation following the rescheduled fixture.
This continued before the match as both sets of fans drank and sung to one another in the city centre but the atmosphere was very different when heading to the stadium from the city centre.
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The hustle and chanting that transpired on Tuesday was turned into silence on Wednesday. Walking towards the stadium, the sense of what had happened the previous day was in the air with the addition of heavily armed police officers.
The numbers were visually tenfold compared to Tuesday evening and - although there did not seem to be any trouble in the area - people were still affected by the events.
However, one Dortmund fan Sebastian Sollgan emphasised that despite what happened near the team hotel, it was just like a normal match day.
"None of us are scared," he said.
"We have our normal routines, we are just doing them earlier than usual. The stadium is probably the safest place in Dortmund right now.
"I think there will be a thicker bond between the two sets of fans.
"What Monaco fans did yesterday, chanting 'Dortmund, Dortmund' earned our respect. There is now a stadium friendship."
The mutual respect between both sets of supporters was evident inside the stadium as the announcer thanked the Monaco fans for their support during a difficult 24 hours and the crowds stood together singing "You'll never walk alone" before kick-off.
Dortmund fans also paid their respects to the travelling party for extending their journeys with a message on the electronic scoreboard proceeded with another round of applause and cry of 'chant for Monaco'.
As the players came out, the home team donned yellow training shirts with a picture of the injured Bartra as a rapturous cheer from the stands went up to show their united front.
The announcer cried out the team line-up with the home supporters responding with shouts of the players surnames before finishing with three chants of 'Marc, Bartra' as both sides' fans got to their feet for a standing ovation.
However, the mutual respect quickly turned to rivalry - for 90 minutes at least - after Monaco earned an early penalty with ironic cheers being heard from around the stadium when Fabinho fired the spot-kick wide before the visitors sealed a 3-2 victory ahead of the second leg.
The only thing that Dortmund supporters were worried about after the match was how damaging the 3-2 first leg defeat to their French opponents may be.
Extra security checks were made so fans had to remain in the stadium for an extra 10 minutes before opening the gates where Monaco and Dortmund fans joined together, forgetting about the previous day's events to head towards the city centre to deliberate about the entertaining match at the Signal Iduna Park.
Belfast Telegraph Digital