Ranking the 5 Most Magical European Nights in Borussia Dortmund History

Lars Pollmann@@LarsPollmannFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2016

Ranking the 5 Most Magical European Nights in Borussia Dortmund History

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    PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

    When the anthem echoes through Westfalenstadion on Tuesday evening, fans of Borussia Dortmund will feel that, at last, their club is back where it belongs. Playing the mighty Real Madrid under the floodlights in the UEFA Champions League is what football is all about.

    The Black and Yellows' one-year absence from European football's premier competition will only have intensified their fans' love for the Champions League. With all due respect to clubs such as FC Porto, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, Dortmund's opponents in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League last season, it's just not the same.

    Thomas Tuchel's team enters the clash with holders Real in high spirits on the back of a four-game winning streak, during which they've outscored teams 20-2. Thanks to a strong record against Los Blancos, who have yet to win at Westfalenstadion and have lost the last three meetings, fans will be optimistic the home team can come away with a famous victory.

    Of course, it's only the group stage, so even such a win will be a mere footnote in a few years. History is made in the knockout stages, where one goal can carry so much weight players go down in lore with one simple strike of the ball.

    Dortmund have made their fair share of history in the various European competitions over the years, and here Bleacher Report presents five of the most magical nights in the club's illustrious past.

The Jurgen Kohler Game

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    KARL-HEINZ KREIFELTS/Associated Press

    Sometimes, all it takes is one game for a player to become immortal among a fanbase. Jurgen Kohler had one of those games in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United in 1997.

    The Black and Yellows had won the first leg 1-0 at home, but many expected Sir Alex Ferguson's team, featuring greats such as Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, to prevail at Old Trafford.

    When Lars Ricken scored the opener for Dortmund after only eight minutes, the rest of the match turned into a defensive battle for the Ruhr side—one they wouldn't have won if it wasn't for Germany international Kohler.

    The then-32-year-old infuriated the Red Devils with no fewer than three goal-line clearances, none more impressive then the one he produced against Cantona while on his back, as you can see at the 1:40-mark in this video.

    In a match in which Dortmund were without their most important player, Matthias Sammer, it was Kohler who was responsible for their heading to the final.

The Heroes of 1966

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    In May 1966, Dortmund became the first club from Germany to win a European trophy, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the European Cup Winners' Cup final in Glasgow's Hampden Park.

    A team with club legends such as goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski—who would concede one of the most famous goals in football history from Geoff Hurst a few months later at the FIFA World Cup final at Wembley—Alfred Schmidt and Dieter Kurrat was the underdog against Bill Shankly's side.

    The game was influenced by torrential downpour in the area, with the "stormy conditions nearly [flooding] Hampden Park in the hours before the game," as Jamie Walker wrote for Bundesliga Fanatic.

    Dortmund coped better and scored the opener through Siegfried Held—a most appropriate scorer whose name translates to "hero" in English. Roger Hunt equalised just seven minutes later, with referee Pierre Schwinte of France overruling his assistant, who signalled the ball played in by Peter Thompson went out of bounds.

    It was down to Reinhard Libuda to produce the winner in extra time, with arguably one of the greatest goals in club history. As Norman Fox wrote in his obituary of Libuda for the Independent in 1996, Liverpool "goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence punched the ball out from the edge of the penalty area directly to Libuda, who struck an immediate and match-winning shot in from 40 yards."

The Robert Lewandowski Show

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    JOHN MACDOUGALL/Getty Images

    Dortmund's 4-1 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final in 2013 was special for two reasons.

    For one, the game almost took a back seat in terms of the public interest, as all eyes were on Mario Gotze, whose move to Bayern Munich was made public by tabloid Bild only one day ahead of the match.

    Then-head coach Jurgen Klopp pleaded with the club's fans not to make their outrage over the defection to Dortmund's nemesis the story of the game, stating in his press conference: "We will do all we can to ensure our concentration is not disturbed. When you deal with things in life in the right way, then you can draw energy from them."

    Indeed, fans largely ignored Gotze on the evening. Of course, they had enough reason to cheer the team on and not concentrate on the then-20-year-old.

    The match turned into the Robert Lewandowski show, with the Poland international scoring all four goals against Jose Mourinho's Galacticos in arguably the greatest individual performance by a Dortmund player in the club's illustrious European history.

    First, he connected with a Gotze cross after eight minutes. Five minutes into the second half, he showed his incredible technical abilities, receiving a wayward Marco Reus shot, turning his hips and slotting past Diego Lopez in one smooth motion.

    Only five minutes later, he topped that impressive feat with an even better goal, dragging the ball away from a defender to open a shooting lane and emphatically smashing it under the bar. A penalty to seal things off after 67 minutes rounded out an amazing performance that almost single-handedly put Dortmund in the Wembley Stadium final, where they'd come up against Bayern.

The Miracle Against Malaga

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    Dortmund only made it to the semi-final against Real thanks to one of the craziest endings in any game of football you will ever see. The 3-2 win over Malaga will always be remembered as a miracle.

    Coached by Manuel Pellegrini and with players such as Willy Caballero, Martin Demichelis, Jeremy Toulalan and Isco, a win for Malaga wouldn't have been a shock but a disappointment for a Dortmund side coming off two straight Bundesliga championships.

    After a goalless draw in the away leg, during which Dortmund wasted countless opportunities, they looked sure to go out when Eliseu made it 2-1 for the Spaniards with only eight minutes of regulation to go.

    What followed in injury time, however, will be retold by fans for decades. 

    First, Marco Reus scored the equaliser off a blocked attempt from centre-back Felipe Santana, whom Jurgen Klopp had ordered to go up front in a desperate attempt to make something happen.

    The Black and Yellows immediately won back the ball from Malaga's kick-off and gained a throw-in deep in enemy territory. Left-back Marcel Schmelzer, wearing a mask to protect a broken nose, quickly put the ball back in play. Lewandowski played a hopeful cross toward Santana that was cleared on the foot of Reus.

    He squared for Santana, whose shot was blocked on the goal line. Substitute striker Julian Schieber tried to poke the ball home but the Brazilian got the last touch and sent the entire stadium into a frenzy of emotion.

    Dortmund got incredibly lucky, as Santana was miles offside—Malaga's second goal came from an offside position as well—but nobody cared.

    In the video above, you can hear the original German commentary from the club's radio broadcast. Worry not if you don't speak German; exultation has a universal language.

The Triumph in Munich

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    LUCA BRUNO/Associated Press

    The top spot on our list was a no-brainer. Dortmund have won the Champions League once—the club's biggest achievement to date.

    The 3-1 victory over Juventus in the 1997 final was one of the bigger upsets in the history of the competition. 

    Marcello Lippi's side, with players such as Didier Deschamps, Zinedine Zidane, Christian Vieri and Alessandro Del Piero, was largely considered to be the best of its time. The Vecchia Signora had won the Champions League the previous year and beaten Dortmund in the UEFA Cup final in 1993. 

    The Black and Yellows entered the game as underdogs, a role they were comfortable in, as the semi-finals against United had shown.

    Two goals in quick succession from striker Karl-Heinz Riedle in the 29th and 34th minutes gave Dortmund a cushion, but Juve, fueled by the rage of Del Piero, who only came off the bench for the second half, were pushing hard. The Italy international cut the deficit in half after 66 minutes.

    Dortmund coach Ottmar Hitzfeld reacted with a substitution of his own, bringing on the 20-year-old Ricken. The youngster had a penchant for scoring important goals despite his young age, hitting winners against AJ Auxerre and United en route to the final.

    It proved to be a genius move from Hitzfeld, as Ricken scored just 16 seconds after entering the field, per ESPN FC. Midfield mastermind Andreas Moller played a beautiful through ball that the Dortmund-born substitute took first time.

    "I watched the first 70 minutes of the match from the bench, and I noticed that [goalkeeper Angelo] Peruzzi often stood too far off his line," Ricken recalled, speaking to UEFA.com. "When I came on, I had that in my mind, thinking: 'Peruzzi is too far off his line. Peruzzi is too far off his line.'"

    The goal put the game away for Dortmund and deservedly won a fan vote for Dortmund's goal of the century in celebration of the club's 100th birthday in 2009, per Spox.com.

    The lasting impact of their surprising win can't be overestimated. To make a sweet victory even better, they were the first German side to win the Champions League in Munich's Olympiastadion, which was then the home ground of Bayern.


    What are your greatest memories of Dortmund in Europe? Tell us in the comments section.

    Lars Pollmann also writes for The Yellow Wall. You can follow him on Twitter.