The star of the show remained in the background. A key figure in the win in Milan was team doctor Dr. Markus Braun. Several BVB players had more to contend with than just their opposite numbers; they were battling an illness which spread around the squad. But that wasn't enough to prevent them celebrating when the final whistle blew. Fortunately the team now have four days to recover before their next game.
Christina Reinke reporting from Milan
After 96 minutes it was job done: Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 at the San Siro and thereby secured early qualification for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. It was a colossal show of strength from the BVB pros. Several players were not in full fitness and had to play the match slightly ill. Nico Schlotterbeck's participation was in doubt due to a cold, while Salih Özcan had a rough night prior to the game.
The final whistle released the last of the tension from their bodies. Wherever the Borussians stood on the pitch - they cheered briefly and then slumped down. They didn't have the strength for more. The effort was written all over the players' faces, but so was their joy at reaching the Round of 16 so early. Tired, they dragged themselves over to the away end to thank the BVB fans for their usual enthusiastic support. Mats Hummels, who produced an outstanding performance on the hallowed turf of the San Siro, suggested that the fans give a rendition of "Unser ganzes Leben, unser ganzer Stolz" (Our whole life, our whole pride). There was still just enough energy left for a joint chant of "Wir lieben Borussia Dortmund" (We love Borussia Dortmund). The Black & Yellow players bounded across the pitch like excited little children.
"We were on our last legs with a couple of players. The doctor told us beforehand who would be able to play 30 minutes, who 45 and who 60," said Edin Terzic, giving an insight into the work of the medical department. Needless to say the head coach was delighted to have reached the last 16 with a game to spare. There were hugs and high-fives for everyone who crossed his path. Shortly before he left the stadium, he clapped once more from the edge of the pitch to the BVB fans, who were still celebrating high up in the stands.
Much had been said and written about the atmosphere at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. But it was only in the early stages and after Milan's equaliser to make it 1-1 that the home fans made themselves heard, otherwise the BVB fans set the tone. "It's a lot of fun to play Champions League football in a stadium like this. I told the lads not to let it affect them, but to let it inspire them," said "Man of the Match" Mats Hummels after the game, going on to add: "We have to deliver enough good performances in two weeks' time. As it's all about finishing first, it will be a great occasion in a great atmosphere. We have matured a lot as a team and we are always ready to put in hard graft on the pitch."