Mats Hummels said a frank half-time team talk helped Borussia Dortmund come from two goals down to beat Inter Milan 3-2 in the Champions League on Tuesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi second-half double.
Antonio Conte’s Inter dominated the first-half at Signal Iduna Park as Lautaro Martinez put the Italians ahead after just five minutes before Matias Vecino added a second just before the break.
However, Dortmund made their superior possession count after the break as Hakimi, who turned 21 on Monday, led the charge with two second-half goals either side of Julian Brandt’s equaliser.
“Inter were very clinical in the first half. They scored twice from two chances, unlike us,” said Hummels, who was beaten for pace by Martinez for the opening goal.
“We left them little room to breathe after the break and were really strong in the second half.
“At the interval, we said that we needed to continue with the ball the way we had done so before, but we had to create more chances.”
‘Anything was possible’
However, the veteran centre-back admitted being surprised by the scale of the fight-back which boosts Dortmund’s last 16 chances, “I didn’t expect that things would turn out quite this well”.
The result leaves Dortmund second in Group F, a point behind leaders Barcelona, who they face at the Camp Nou in three weeks’ time, and on course for the last 16.
Inter are now third in the group, three points behind Dortmund, before their next game at Slavia Prague.
Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre, who was heavily criticised in the German media after they lost 2-0 in Milan a fortnight ago, said he made it clear at half-time a fight-back was still on.
“I told them that if we got back to 2-1, anything was possible,” said the Swiss.
“At the break, there wasn’t much to change.
“I had seen some positive things in the first half, we created chances for ourselves, but unfortunately conceded two goals.
“We had a lot of possession, put a lot of tempo into our game, prevented them from counter-attacking and that was the key.
“It was a crazy match to watch.”
Conte left fuming
Favre singled out match-winner Hakimi, who “was everywhere, he’s a right back, but might as well have played as a striker.”
He added: “But I have to pay the whole team a compliment, there were a lot of good performances out there tonight.”
Antonio Conte in the opposite dugout, who had predicted his side would face a test of character, was furious to see them throw away a comfortable lead as Dortmund attacked at will after the break.
“The same thing happened in Barcelona,” he said after Inter lost their second group game 2-1 at the Camp Nou in early October after Martinez had given Milan an early lead.
“I don’t feel like commenting on the second half, I don’t want to find excuses.
“We are sorry for this defeat but I cannot ask much more of my players because they are working really hard.
“We made some mistakes in planning because we cannot play in two competitions with such a small squad,” he added with Inter second to Juventus in Serie A.