Livescore Friday, April 12
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On the Bundesliga regular season’s final day, Borussia Dortmund suffered a catastrophe for the ages to hand Bayern Munich their 11th straight title.

Heading into the 34th and last game of a league campaign that began in the first week of August, Dortmund simply needed to beat mid-table Mainz at home to become champions, or hope second-placed Bayern failed to win away to Cologne, another side with little to play for.

Prior to kick-off, the city of Dortmund was preparing to party. Half-a-million people were expected on the streets, tickets for the Mainz game were selling for thousands of euros, and there was scarcely a hotel room to be found anywhere in the Ruhr Valley region. Vendors were already offering T-shirts in the club’s yellow and black colours emblazoned with the legend ‘Deutschermeister 2023: Dortmund’, while many fans had brought along souvenir scarves commemorating their most recent title win 11 years ago.

The sun was shining, the famous Gelbe Wand (Yellow Wall) at Signal Iduna Park was full 90 minutes before kick-off, and Bo Svensson’s Mainz had no reason to try very hard; what could go wrong?

Everything.

This is how the drama unfolded.

8 mins: An hour’s drive to the south in Cologne, Kingsley Coman rattles Bayern into an early lead. It is an inconvenience for Dortmund, but the assumption was presumably always that they would have to win their game.

No problem; nothing has really changed.

15 mins: At Signal Iduna Park, the mood is changing. From a driven corner, Andreas Hanche-Olsen escapes three markers to glance in at the near post and give Mainz the lead. It is inattentive defending, but so early in the game the situation is hardly desperate.

There are nerves now, though. A real fear among Edin Terzic’s players. As the first half wears on, it becomes clear that Dortmund might just be battling more than just a crippling stage of stage fright.

19 mins: A clumsy challenge on Raphael Guerreiro draws a penalty, but Sebastien Haller’s languid sidefoot effort is comfortably saved by Finn Dahmen.

Isn’t it such a cruel sport sometimes?

After everything that Haller has overcome this year, with his battle against testicular cancer, and all he has contributed, surely that’s not how his season is going to end?

21 mins: Haller almost gets a second chance immediately after. Once more, Guerrero looks to have earned a penalty when he is barged in the back deep in the Mainz box.

But no review, no penalty…

23 mins: …and because the fates are starting to enjoy themselves, it’s inevitable that, within a minute, Mainz have a second goal. This time, Karim Onisiwo is left all alone in the six-yard box, and ‘keeper Gregor Kobel can only shovel his header into the side netting. Emre Can has had a wonderful season in midfield for Dortmund, but that was very preventable.

Half-time: A footballing tragedy is unfolding here (well, for everyone apart from Bayern). An hour before, money couldn’t buy a ticket for this game. But at the interval, with the home side two goals down and the title momentum turning, there isn’t a single soul who looks like they want to be inside Signal Iduna Park.

The TV cameras pan around the ground as we wait for the second half to begin. Management advisor Matthias Sammer looks utterly dejected. Next to him, Hans-Joachim Watzke, the managing director – dressed in a woolly, cream-coloured rollneck to make the hot weather and the deepening misery even less bearable – looks utterly hacked off, too.

46 to 67 minutes: When the action resumes, Dortmund panic. Their play is ragged and desperate, and Mainz’s low-block holds. The back door is well and truly open now, and it’s only the visitors’ heavy, end-of-season legs that prevent them from adding to their lead. A few counters are wasted. Kobel saves superbly at the end of another.

The crowd are still roaring with every interception and urging Dortmund up the field. Chance after chance comes and goes. The ball just will not go in.

Marco Reus is on. Gio Reyna is on. Youssoufa Moukoko and Julien Duranville too, but it’s still 0-2. This isn’t going to happen…

68 mins: …or maybe it might!

Guerreiro collects a pass from Reyna, shuffles his feet, and drills the ball into the bottom corner off the post. The Yellow Wall quivers with excitement.

Maybe, just maybe. But at 1-2, Dortmund need another two goals.

72 mins: To add to the general sense of chaos, the game in Cologne is temporarily halted after two sprinkler heads just outside the Bayern penalty area burst out of the turf and start spraying water about.

Then again, it’s getting to the stage where everyone probably needs to cool off.

80 mins: PENALTY COLOGNE.

Ooooooooh.

Everyone in Germany has forgotten about Bayern, but now it’s their turn to buckle. The VAR finds a handball, the referee gives the penalty from the screen, and Dejan Ljubicic scores past Yann Sommer.

As it stands, Dortmund will be champions despite losing their game.

81 mins: AND THE NEWS HAS REACHED DORTMUND.

Nobody in the stadium cares about the score there anymore and the fans – there’s even one wearing a red-and-white Cologne shirt – are pumping their fists and howling, wild-eyed into the blazing sun. Oh, they know exactly what’s happening in Bayern’s game.

What’s better than beating Bayern to the title? Winning it because – for once, after Unterhaching in 2000 and Hamburg in 2001 – the men from Munich are tripping over their own feet and are about to become the punchline.

And in Cologne, Bayern’s executives, sitting high up in the posh seats, are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their tempers, with the referee, with their team – just with life.

89 mins: Goal, Bayern.

There it is. Of course.

Jamal Musiala bends a beauty into the far corner and Bayern have the lead once more. It’s a marvellous goal. One that absolutely deserves to win a title, but…. goodness me…. of all the good things in the world, football is just absolutely the worst when you’re on its bad side.

Bayern’s substitutes and coaching staff explode off the bench and race across the pitch. They know the score in Dortmund and Thomas Tuchel is about to win his first trophy at his new club.

95 mins: Goal, Dortmund.

About that sense of cruelty…

On the stroke of the fifth of the five added minutes, Niklas Sule rattles in a deflected equaliser. It’s really only enough to tease a bit of hope and, after the ball is launched towards and repelled away from the Mainz box after the restart, the full-time whistle sounds in almost total silence. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Dortmund quite so sombre.

Bayern are, again, champions.

It’s actually difficult to watch. Most of the Dortmund players are face down in the grass, or back on their haunches. A couple – including Reus – are in tears. Terzic walks around, consoling his players and he gives Jude Bellingham, who had a knee problem and was unable to play any part from the bench today, a big hug. Bellingham looks crestfallen and during an interview with Sky Sport Deutschland,  Can has to stop to compose himself more than once.

“We were so close,” he says. “The team gave everything.”

Finally, the Yellow Wall recovers its collective voice and when local lad and boyhood Dortmund fan Terzic approaches the fence between him and them, there are tears in his eyes.

Even after the football is over, there is still time for drama, with Bayern swiftly confirming Hasan Salihamidzic and Oliver Kahn have been sacked from their roles as sporting director and CEO respectively, paying the price for what was still an underwhelming season for the club, despite the title.

On Twitter, Kahn cuts a defiant figure.

“Unbelievable! A big compliment and congratulations guys! I always told you so!” he writes. “Always give everything to the end and never give up. I am incredibly proud of you and this achievement! I would like to celebrate with you, but unfortunately I can’t be with you today because I was forbidden. I’m looking forward to next season. We will not only be German champions for the 12th time! Let’s celebrate!”

Tuchel, meanwhile, sounds slightly sheepish when he tries to make sense of it all.

“The game describes this phase I’ve gone through as a manager,” says the man who replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the start of April. “We had a good grip on the game and we had the chance to score another goal. But we didn’t and then we lost control due to individual mistakes. Then we tried to run down the clock.”

Tuchel is also diplomatic about the departed executives.

“I was told yesterday (of their dismissal),” he says. “They (Salihamidzic and Kahn) were the ones who convinced me to join Bayern. We have won the title. Now, it’s the next political topic.”

As for Dortmund? Well knows where they go from here. The future of Bellingham – who was in tears after the final whistle – remains uncertain, and many will wonder when they will ever have a better chance to break Bayern’s domestic supremacy.

A fine team have the ability to come again. But for the moment, this is going to hurt.

(Top photos: Getty Images)



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