"I have a huge respect for Qäbälä," said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, with the Azerbaijani club rightly proud of having given the German giants a scare or two in Baku.
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Playing their UEFA Europa League home games in Baku has not always meant full stands for Qäbälä, who are based 180km from the capital, but Borussia Dortmund's arrival for matchday three brought fans of all Azerbaijan's big clubs out in force.
"It is great to see a German Bundesliga team come to our country, but we are not giving up hope of a positive result," Qäbälä fan Allahverdi Memmedli told UEFA.com before kick-off last night, the Radars having taken encouragement from a 0-0 draw with PAOK and narrow 2-1 defeat at Kransodar in their opening Group C games. "We believe in Qäbälä, we believe they can avoid defeat against Borussia."
It did not quite work out that way, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win for the visitors, to the delight of the 500 or so Dortmund supporters who made the 3,500km trip to Azerbaijan to watch Thomas Tuchel's side. The visiting fans outsang their hosts for much of the evening, but Dodô's late consolation goal gave Dortmund a taste of local passion, the presence of former Qäbälä and Russia coach Yuri Semin in the stands adding to the sense of occasion.
Before the match, Qäbälä's Ukrainian coach Roman Hyrgorchuk said: "I thank God that we have the chance to play against such a good team. I am proud we are hosting Borussia. I am eager to see how we cope against them. The lads believe in themselves."
The eventual loss did little to dampen his spirits. "I have watched all Borussia's games this season, and not one team managed to create as many opportunities against them as we did," he said. "It is a pity we did not take them, but I am still proud of my players. It was very a useful match for us – we are stronger as a result."
How different things might have gone if Qäbälä had converted one of their early half-chances. That was certainly the way captain Dodô saw it. "If we were a bit more precise early in the game, it would have gone differently," the Brazilian midfielder said. "My goal didn't please me because it did not bring us any points. Even though we were up against a world-class club, we still wanted to win."
Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, left with a positive impression. "It was important that we scored first," he noted. "Qäbälä started well while we lost our focus. We would have been in trouble if they had scored first. I have a huge respect for Qäbälä; they fought until the very end. I especially liked goalkeeper Dmytro Bezotosniy and Dodô." Qäbälä can only hope to make a similarly positive impact when the sides meet again in Germany on 5 November.