BERLIN, Germany, Apr 15 – Borussia Dortmund players paid tribute to injured defender Marc Bartra as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 on Saturday in their first Bundesliga match since the bomb attack on their team bus.
Germany winger Marco Reus scored on his return after six weeks out on an emotional afternoon for the club.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos and leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were also on target in a home victory which let Thomas Tuchel’s side to all but wrap up a top-four finish and boost morale at the end of a traumatic week.
“The players showed incredible character and deserve the best possible compliment,” said Tuchel.
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.
– Bayern held –
Runaway league leaders Bayern later endured a frustrating goalless draw at ten-man Bayer Leverkusen as they desperately missed top-scorer Robert Lewandowski, who was suspended.
Leverkusen had Tin Jedvaj sent off for the last 30 minutes, but Bayern could not break down the hosts’ defence despite 19 shots on goal — including having double saves off the line on two separate occasions.
Defenders Jedvaj and Omer Toprak cleared shots by David Alaba and Javi Martinez in rapid succession on 32 minutes.
Then Thomas Mueller and Arturo Vidal both had shots cleared on 52 minutes just before Jedjav’s dismissal for a second yellow.
With five minutes to go, Philipp Lahm rolled the ball just wide of the post to sum up Bayern’s fortunes.
Lewandowski will hopefully recover from a bruised shoulder for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final return at Real Madrid.
The Poland hot-shot missed last Wednesday’s 2-1 first-leg defeat with injury.
Second-placed RB Leipzig are now eight points behind Bayern after their 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 scored 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.
Third-placed Hoffenheim also moved a step closer to Champions League qualification after their thrilling 5-3 win at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Hungary striker Adam Szalai and midfielder Kerem Demirbay both scored twice in the eight-goal thriller.
Relegation-threatened Mainz broke their five-match losing streak with a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin thanks to Danny Latza’s winner to leave them 15th.
Augsburg are one place below them, but level on points, after they beat Cologne 2-1 despite finishing with nine men as Koo Ja-Cheol and Alfred Finnbogason were sent off as Paul Verhaegh sealed the hosts’ win.
An own-goal by Markus Suttner and strikes from Yunus Malli and Mario Gomez gave Wolfsburg a 3-0 win home to Ingolstadt.