Another Bundesliga Monday night game saw another passionate protest from fans against unfriendly kick-off times. On the pitch, guests Eintracht Frankfurt defeated a dogged Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-0.
Eintracht Frankfurt's away fans have impressed just as much as their fierce attacking unit this season, but their absence against Fortuna Düsseldorf was immediately noticeable.
About 3500 fans had traveled north to Düsseldorf but they boycotted the first 45 minutes of this match in protest against Monday night fixtures, which make it difficult for away supporters to attend.
Whether or not Frankfurt's players were affected by their usual boisterous support's absence, they certainly struggled to make much headway against a dogged Düsseldorf side in the first period.
But when the away fans returned after the break - together with flares, bangers and smoke bombs - Frankfurt clicked into gear, as Gonçalo Paciência broke the deadlock in the 48th minutes and Sebastian Haller added two late strikes to seal a 3-0 victory.
Protests dominate first half
The Fortuna ultras stood in unity with their counterparts, boycotting until halfway through the 16th minute, in reference to the traditional 15:30 kick-off time on Saturdays. They were accompanied by a banner saying, "Your carving up of matchdays is breaking fans' hearts”.
The club also played its own role, too, backing its fans by placing a "For fan-friendly kick-off times” banner on the pitch prior to kick-off and the stadium announcer playing out The Boomtown Rats' 1970s hit "I Don't Like Mondays” as the two teams came out onto the pitch.
Düsseldorf went ahead in the second minute when Dawid Kownacki finished one-on-one against Kevin Trapp. But the goal was controversially ruled out for offside, while Dodi Lukebakio had played the ball with his hand in the build-up.
Frankfurt had a few opportunities through Luka Jovic, who scored five in a 7-1 rout in the first meeting between these sides. But Michael Rensing blocked one effort just before half-time, while Düsseldorf's disciplined performance restricted Frankfurt to few chances.
Blistering second half
Frankfurt turned up the pressure after the break, though, surely buoyed by the return of their passionate support in the stands.
In the 48th minute, Paciência rose to head past Rensing after Jonathan de Guzman had floated a ball to the back post. It was the Portuguese forward's second goal in as many games, in what was his first Bundesliga start following an injury-interrupted season.
Düsseldorf started to push forward and were awarded a penalty in the 60th minute for handball, only for VAR to intervene. Referee Robert Hartmann overturned his own decision after reviewing the replays and ruling that Martin Hinteregger had not illegally handled the ball.
Frankfurt slowly started to take advantage of the gaps left in Düsseldorf's defence and in the dying minutes added two more goals through substitute Sebastian Haller. The Frenchman's 18th and 19th of the season in all competitions.
Next up is Inter Milan in the San Siro, where Eintracht Frankfurt will be relying on their passionate away support to help them seal passage into the quarter-finals of the Europa League.