On Tuesday night, at 22:07 local time in London, Borussia Dortmund’s 2022/23 Champions League campaign was over. A 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge overturned the 1-0 win three weeks earlier at Strobelallee. “They were two close games. It is an incredibly bitter pill to swallow, we are extremely disappointed,” was how head coach Edin Terzic described it. One situation in particular has been the subject of heated debate.

Boris Rupert reporting from London

Just two minutes into the second half, Chilwell played a cross from the left wing. Marius Wolf, in the process of turning away, has the ball strike his hand from close range. Referee Danny Makkelie, who was close to the scene, waved play on. But then VAR intervened. Makkelie had a closer look on the monitor before pointing to the spot. Wrong decision, said former Bundesliga referees Manuel Gräfe and Wolfgang Stark. Wolf’s arm was in a natural position. ”It’s bitter, but we have to accept it,” explained Wolf, adding: ”I don’t move my hand towards the ball, it’s not intentional, I have my arms by my body, I’m still turning away.”

Kai Havertz stalled several times on his run-up. By the time he struck the ball (and ended up hitting the right-hand post), several players from both teams were already in the penalty area or semi-circle. Salih Özcan cleared the rebound out into touch, thus preventing Havertz from having a second chance to score. Makkelie allowed play to continue. Once again, “VAR” got involved. Makkelie ordered the penalty kick to be retaken, with Havertz making no mistake second time around to make it 2-0.

According to the rules, it was technically the right decision, said Gräfe and Stark. It made no difference which set of players or which individual player entered the box first. The portal “Collina’s Heirs” took a somewhat different view of things.

“Things get complicated when it comes to penalty kicks. Havertz is allowed to stall on his run-up and then continue. By the time he strikes the ball, several players from both teams have entered the penalty area and the semi-circle too early, including Özcan. The ball hits the post, Özcan clears it to safety. Makkelie allows play to continue, but VAR intervenes. Makkelie is told that a player who ran into the box too early (Özcan) cleared the rebound. Makkelie orders the spot-kick to be retaken. The IFAB handbook states that VAR can intervene when players have run into the box too early from a penalty kick if the player in question is from the defending team and prevents an attacker from playing the ball, thus preventing a possible goal from being scored. But Özcan did not do that. Only Havertz was close to him, but he was not allowed to play the ball bouncing back from the post, because otherwise there would have been a double touch (after the ball hit the post, no other player had touched it).”


The game has been played, the decisions have been made, elimination is confirmed. The team’s performance wasn’t good enough. “We were too passive in the first half, so we can’t have too many complaints about going down 1-0,” said Nico Schlotterbeck, adding: “We had a lot of control of the game between the 10th and 35th minute, but not too much penetration. We were up for it, but didn’t manage to make the difference out on the pitch.” BVB were on top in the second half, but only managed to create one gilt-edged opportunity (Bellingham). ”They sat so deep, so it was hard to put them under too much pressure. We could have come away with more,” commented Schlotterbeck. Goalkeeper Alexander Meyer took a similar view of things: “We tried everything, but we couldn’t land the final punch.”