In the new Europa League season, teams can skip the second round by winning the group and advance directly to the round of 16. Eintracht Frankfurt also had this goal.
What a thriller in Frankfurt. Eintracht won 2-2 on matchday five in the Europa League against bottom group Royal Antwerp. The decisive 2-2 fell in the 94th minute of the game. Before that, it looked like Antwerp would take a late win. Mbwana Samatta had made it 2-1 for the Belgians in the 88th minute. This means that Frankfurt remains in the lead in Group D (with eleven points), followed by Olympiacos Piraeus (with nine points), who beat Fenerbahce 1-0. A draw on the last day of the match would be enough for Frankfurt to win the group.
Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner asked his team to “close the sack” at the first match ball. It is forbidden to underestimate the Belgian runners-up in the European table, however, without a win. “We mustn’t think that everything is already prefabricated,” warned the Austrian. Rather, the “same consequence” is necessary as in the recent successful streak of three competitive game victories in a row.
And that showed his eleven, unchanged compared to the 2-0 in Freiburg, in front of 30,000 spectators, won many balls in dangerous areas – and rewarded himself with the first clever attack for the effort. Timothy Chandler crossed halfway in from the right, Kamada executed from five meters (13th). Even after that, the semi-finalist from 2019 remained decisive in the game, but often acted too imprecisely in the last third.
The Belgians, who started with the former Bundesliga professionals Birger Verstraete, Michael Frey and Viktor Fischer, were initially only dangerous by standards. Ex-Nuremberg Frey (16th) couldn’t take advantage of a mistake by Kevin Trapp before Evan N’dicka deflected a volley from Nainggolan (33rd) after an incorrectly given corner.
Radja Nainggolan (center, number 4) closes and scores. Antwerp’s equalization came out of nowhere for Frankfurt. (Source: Arne Dedert / dpa)
After the break, Eintracht became more erratic, and the combination game, which was largely fluid in the first round, increasingly faltered. The Hessians also revealed more gaps in the back without the injured defensive chief Martin Hinteregger. After a gun throw from the Eintracht fans and treatment of ex-Cologne Verstraete, the game had to be interrupted in the meantime.
In the final phase, Samatta hit the neck for Eintracht, before Goncalo Paciencia shook the stadium with his equalizer.