"Spitzenreiter, Spitzenreiter," ("top of the league, top of the league") was the chant reverberating from the Südtribüne, which was half full with around 12,000 fans –the most since the outbreak of the pandemic. A total of 63,812 visitors celebrated a 3-1 home win against Mainz 05, which saw Borussia Dortmund go top of the Bundesliga for one night – until Sunday.

More than 63,812 fans were last seen at Signal Iduna Park on 29 February 2020 for the match against Freiburg – the last game before the Covid-19 pandemic. 67,082 tickets were available for purchase, including the five percent away quota, but Mainz only filled 1,300 of their 3,350 seats. Some 98 percent of the tickets reserved for BVB fans were sold.

And the BVB fans in the stadium were treated to an exciting afternoon of football, including a dream start for their team – Marco Reus made it 1-0 in the third minute –, visible dominance, another early goal at the start of the second half – Erling Haaland's goal from the penalty spot to made it 2-0 on 54 minutes –, but also an unfortunately and unnecessarily exciting final phase. "We are making it difficult for ourselves at the back," lamented Marco Rose: "It's unnecessary – we have to keep talking about it and re-opening that wound."

But without contradicting his coach, Emre Can also took something positive from that: "We conceded a stupid goal – but what was even more important was the response afterwards: we continued to go forward. Things are moving in the right direction." As was the case against Hoffenheim (2-2 in the 90th minute) and Union Berlin (2-3 to bring the opposition back into the game in the 81st minute), the team quickly answered a late strike by the opponent, which had put the win in jeopardy, with another goal of their own – each scored by Erling Haaland. "He is massively important for us because he always occupies two or three players. The fact that he scored two goals on his comeback is fantastic," said Marco Reus, full of praise for his teammate.

However, the fact that the game was not put to bed earlier was also partly down to a lack of luck: Mats Hummels' header hit the post. It was the fifth time BVB have hit the woodwork this season – no other team has hit the post or the crossbar more often.

On Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen will play against Bayern Munich. If there is no winner in that game, Dortmund will not only be top of the league for a night, but one for (at least) a week. (br)