Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has criticized UEFA after his side's 3-2 loss to Monaco. A day after the team was targeted by blasts, Tuchel said it was "as if a beer can had been thrown at the bus."
It felt like the game that would never happen.
The 24 hours between a suspected terrorist attack on the Dortmund team bus and kick off on Wednesday, felt a lot longer.
There were many voices in Germany critical that the game was rescheduled too hastily. The cover of Wednesday's weekly "SportBild" suggested the second attempt had come too soon and a banner unfurled on the Südtribüne before the game read: "UEFA: Greedy Old Bastards."
Dortmund fans clearly felt European football's governing body were putting profits before safety; and they may just have a point. While UEFA wanted to project a "show must go on" message, Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel was less than impressed in the post-match press conference with how they had dealt with the situation.
'I wanted more time'
"We were informed by text message that UEFA had made this decision," Tuchel said. "We wished we would have had more time to deal with what happened, but someone in Switzerland decided we must play. We will not forget it, it is a very bad feeling.
"A few minutes after this attack, the only question that was asked was; 'are you ready to play?' As if we'd had a beer thrown at our bus," Tuchel added. "The date was imposed upon us. There was a feeling of helplessness. What we think has didn't interest anybody. We weren't asked about playing the game."
"I just wanted more time, a few more days. In a few days, we would not have dealt with it completely but more time would have helped us to find a way." he said. "UEFA wanted to keep going. Of course we have to keep going, but we still wanted to be competitive."
Armed police at every turn
Despite Tuchel's irritation, the fans took the situation in their stride. The carefree, well-natured energy around the stadium on Tuesday had become a more tense, edgy atmosphere by Wednesday.
The security presence was incomparable to the previous night, with armed police visible at every turn, with Dortmund police suggesting the volume of officers, who had been drafted in from all over the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was the highest-ever number present for a match at this stadium. There was a feeling that this game was something to get through, rather than something to be enjoyed. At times, it didn't even feel like a football match.
For all the upheaval and stress of the previous 24 hours, these fans deserved some entertainment. And in this respect, the game didn't disappoint. It was an absorbing contest that ebbed and flowed as two of Europe's finest attacking teams went toe-to-toe.
Mbappe stole the show
Billed as a showdown between Europe's two best young teams, there was one player who stole the show, demonstrating a maturity well beyond his tender 18 years. It wasn't just the fact that Kylian Mbappe scored two goals in a Champions League quarterfinal that was striking, but just how comfortable this star-in-the-making looks on the biggest stage. Mbappe scored Monaco's opener, which should have been disallowed, but it was his fearlessness and raw speed that Dortmund's wooden defence couldn't deal with.
Dortmund went into the halftime break down 2-0 but came out strongly in the second half and pulled a goal back to put Monaco on the back foot. But just as Dortmund looked like forcing an equalizer, Mbappe struck again - and in some style. A misplaced Dortmund pass gave the French teenager a clean run at keeper Roman Bürki, and Mbappe kept his cool unleashing an assured and precise finish into the far corner. It was ice-cold finishing from a player who will surely light up big European nights for years to come, as his performance eclipsed the collection of young Dortmund talent. In fact, it was one of Dortmund's older heads, goalscorer Shinji Kagawa, whose ability to drift between the opposition's defence and midfield still makes him one of the most effective attacking midfielders in the game.
For Dortmund, getting the right result in this game was never going to be an easy task given the circumstances. Kagawa's late strike, which made the final score 3-2 for the Ligue 1 leaders, could yet be the lifeline Dortmund need to come through the second leg next week in Monaco. For now the club will be relieved to have got through this unfortunate episode, despite the bitter taste left by UEFA's handling of the situation.