Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund players and fans paid tribute to defender Marc Bartra as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 on Saturday in their first Bundesliga match since the midweek bomb attack on their team bus.
Germany winger Marco Reus scored on his return after six weeks out and Sokratis Papastathopoulos and leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were also on target in a home victory which allowed Thomas Tuchel’s side to all but wrap up a top-four finish and boost morale at the end of a traumatic week.
Three bombs containing pieces of metal rocked the Dortmund bus on the way to Tuesday’s Champions League home quarter-final match against Monaco and left Spanish international Bartra hospitalised.
The first leg was eventually played on Wednesday but Dortmund lost 3-2, their players later admitting they were still shell-shocked by the attack.
The team was buoyed before kick-off on Saturday as Bartra was released from hospital following surgery on a broken wrist.
The Dortmund squad held his number five shirt aloft as they celebrated in front of their home fans after the final whistle.
“During the 90 minutes it was easier than on Wednesday,” said captain Marcel Schmelzer.
“We had a goosebump moment in front of our south stand. We’re trying to talk a lot about it (the attack) in order to process it and I hope it will get better quickly.”
Reus, back from a hamstring injury, needed just three minutes to open the scoring in front of a sell-out crowd of 81,360 and a heavy police presence at Signal Iduna Park.
Frankfurt drew level on 29 minutes when Marco Fabian’s speculative shot hit the top-right corner, but Sokratis restored the hosts’ advantage before the break with a thunderous effort that barely deviated as it flew past Frankfurt goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.
Aubameyang netted his 26th league goal this season late on to secure the points and make him the division’s joint top scorer alongside Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
– RB into Champions League —
With runaway league leaders Bayern at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday evening, second-placed RB Leipzig trimmed the gap at the top to seven points with a 4-0 home thrashing of Freiburg.
Yussuf Poulsen gave RB an early lead before putting Timo Werner in behind the Freiburg defence to net his 16th league goal this season just before the break.
Guinea midfielder Naby Keita netted with a superb shot on 51 minutes before Diego Demme hit their fourth.
Leipzig, in their first top-flight campaign, are now guaranteed a top-four finish and a crack at the Champions League next season.
“It was another important step. Now we want to achieve more and fulfil our next dream,” said Werner with one eye on Europe.
Third-placed Hoffenheim also moved a step closer to Champions League qualification after their thrilling 5-3 win home to Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Hungary striker Adam Szalai scored twice to give Hoffenheim a 2-0 lead before Europa League-chasing Gladbach clawed back with goals in quick succession by defender Jannik Vestergaard and captain Lars Stindl.