BERLIN — One fan died and another was taken to hospital after both suffered heart attacks during Borussia Dortmund’s 2-0 victory over Mainz in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
One of the supporters died despite efforts to save him, while the other was "in a stable condition" in hospital, Dortmund media director Sascha Fligge told The Associated Press.
Watch match highlights: Bayer Leverkusen 1, Hamburger SV 0 || Borussia Dortmund 2, Mainz 0 ||
With the news filtering through during the match, fans broke into a rendition of "You’ll Never Walk Alone" before the game ended, and then again after the final whistle – when the Dortmund players lined up arm-in-arm as a mark of respect.
Supporters were unusually quiet midway through the second half. Banners were taken down and the vast majority — including Mainz supporters — stopped chanting or singing for the rest of the game.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) March 13, 2016
— Alex Chaffer (@AlexChaffer) March 13, 2016
"At first I was irritated because I didn't know what was going on. In hindsight you have to pay the fans a huge compliment," said goalscorer Marco Reus, who said he had been asked by the referee why fans had stopped supporting the team.
Dortmund president Reinhard Rauball, one of two interim presidents of the German football federation, also paid tribute to the supporters.
"The game fades into the background," Rauball said. "The reaction of the fans was really impressive. I've never experienced anything like it. What we saw cannot be topped by words.
"You have to take your hat off."
The fans had been in full voice when Gonzalo Castro provided the key for the breakthrough in the 30th minute, running through midfield and eluding four Mainz players before finding Reus on the right. Reus finished coolly inside the far post.
But players were subsequently affected by the strange atmosphere as 81,000 supporters stayed quiet, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang crossing for Shinji Kagawa to seal the win in the 73rd.
Dortmund restored the five-point gap behind Bayern Munich with eight rounds of games remaining. Mainz dropped to sixth.
Earlier, an own goal from Albin Ekdal was enough for Bayer Leverkusen to beat visiting Hamburger SV 1-0 and climb to seventh, a point behind Mainz.
The victory was Leverkusen's first after four league games without a win, easing the pressure on coach Roger Schmidt on his 49th birthday. Schmidt was back after serving a three-game ban for refusing to be sent off in a previous game.
"Everyone felt the pressure. That's why it was even more important to get the three points. Now we're back on course," said Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who safeguarded his side's win with an impressive performance.
The game moved up a geare with Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez heading over before Artjoms Rudnevs was thwarted by Leno at the other end.
Leverkusen scored when Ekdal deflected Julian Brandt's cross into his own net in the 18th.
Chicharito hit the crossbar with another header before the break, and Hamburg pressed for an equalizer thereafter. The best chances fell to Latvia striker Rudnevs, who could find no way past the inspired Leno.
Leverkusen defender Tin Jedvaj was sent off with two cards in injury time, the second for a reaction to his first.