Eintracht Frankfurt impressed in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals. The Hessians had FC Barcelona under control for a while and were even leading. In the end, however, it was not enough to win.
The rousing “Euro Eagles” may be flying towards another sensation in their favourite competition. In the breathtakingly loud quarter-final first leg of the Europa League, Eintracht Frankfurt held FC Barcelona to a very strong 1:1 (0:0) and can dream of reaching the semi-finals, just like in the furious victory march of 2019.
Yellow card for Tuta
With better chances, an even better result would have been possible, but Ferran Torres (66th) equalised after a Frankfurt dream goal by Ansgar Knauff (47th). Eintracht defender Tuta was shown the yellow card for repeated foul play (82nd).
“We played a hell of a game and allowed very little in the entire 90 minutes,” said Knauff, who is on loan from Dortmund, at the RTL microphone: “It’s almost a bit annoying that we didn’t take the win. But anything is possible for the second leg.”
The five-time Champions League winners from Spain played dominantly, but there was a lack of top-class opportunities. So the Catalans even have to tremble for their European consolation prize. For the SGE, the dream goal of reaching the semi-finals next Thursday in the legendary Camp Nou still requires a magical night, any victory after 90 or 120 minutes or a triumph in the penalty shoot-out will do.
48,000 spectators in Frankfurt
Coach Oliver Glasner had exuded confidence before the unequal duel. “We have played against Bayern 2:1 and 0:1 this season, so in a knockout game we would be in extra time. If you can do that against Bayern, you can do it against Barcelona.” Glasner relied on his proven squad, with only defender Martin Hinteregger returning to the starting eleven for Makoto Hasebe after his yellow suspension in the league.
Ferran Torres forced national goalkeeper Kevin Trapp into a brilliant save from distance after just 130 seconds in front of national coach Hansi Flick. The game immediately picked up pace in front of 48,000 enthusiastic spectators, as Eintracht also immediately took part in the first duel between the two teams.
Knauff’s dream goal
Knauff (4th) and Filip Kostic (5th) fired the first warning shots before Djibril Sow, completely free, pushed the ball just wide of the left post from seven metres. Barca tried again and again with their infamous Tiki-Taka, but the SGE defended sacrificially. If a ball did slip through, Trapp was a safe backstop – as he was when ex-Dortmund player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang attempted to do from an acute angle (17th).
Frankfurt also continued to make offensive inroads. But often there was a lack of precision, promising switching situations were played too hastily. A penalty after an alleged foul by Sergio Busquets on Rafael Borre was taken back (39th). The stadium was now finally boiling and Eintracht brought the energy from the stands onto the pitch in the second half.
U21 international Knauff scored a dream shot from 20 metres into the corner, less than 60 seconds later Jesper Lindström (49th) missed the double strike. Glasner’s team repeatedly embarrassed Barca, while Xavi’s team, which had recently regained its strength, cut its teeth on Eintracht’s passionate defence. But then Torres scored out of nowhere.