Frankfurt - Eintracht Frankfurt exited the UEFA Europa League in heartbreaking fashion after a 3-3 draw at home to FC Porto sent them crashing out on away goals.

After the first leg had ended 2-2, the hosts were in dream land when Stefan Aigner and Alexander Meier put them 2-0 up, but Porto hit back with a brace of headers from defender Eliaquim Mangala. Meier then thought he had won it for the hosts when he made it 3-2 on 76 minutes, but Porto had the last laugh when Nabil Ghilas fired in from close range with four minutes remaining.

Strong start


Eintracht knew that following their two away goals in the first leg, a goalless draw would see them through to the next round, but there was no sign of them adopting a passive approach in the early stages, however, as Tranquillo Barnetta was denied early by a last-ditch tackle from Mangala and Maicon saw yellow for a cynical foul on Pirmin Schwegler as the club captain attempted to lead a break.

Porto exuded confidence with their high defensive line and were enjoying plenty of possession, but hardly tested Kevin Trapp’s goal in the opening half-hour, save for a wayward free-kick from winger Ricardo Quaresma. Buoyed by tremendous support from the crowd, Frankfurt continued to probe for opportunities and they should have taken the lead when Johannes Flum blazed over after good work Meier.

Eagles strike, Porto hit back


The home side’s pressing continued to cause the visitors problems and it was not long before another energetic move ended with the opening goal. Barnetta’s delightful flick released Sebastian Jung, whose deep cross was nodded back into the danger zone for Aigner to apply a poked finish. Barnetta then tested Helton with a low drive to end a brilliant half for Armin Veh’s men.

Porto, winners of the UEFA Champions League in 2004, began the second period needing to score twice, but they failed to get to grips with an opposition that was dominating in every department, and things got better for Frankfurt when Meier tapped home from the excellent Barnetta’s cross seven minutes after the restart. Porto then found a way back into the game, however, when Mangala stooped to glance home Quaresma’s teasing pass, and suddenly the match sprang into life.

Ghilas breaks Frankfurt hearts


Moments after conceding, a golden chance to re-establish their two-goal lead fell the way of Jung, yet his back-heeled effort was clawed off the line by Silvestre Varela. At the other end, Trapp then had to be at full stretch to parry clear a Maicon shot from distance and before gathering a curling effort from the ever-dangerous Quaresma. Porto were finally playing like a side intent on reaching the tournament’s round of 16, however, and Mangala soon drew them level with an almost identical header to his opening goal.

As things stood the game was heading for extra time, but Frankfurt showed tremendous belief to take the lead once more through Meier’s back-post volley, setting up a backs-to-the-wall finish for the home side. As the clock ticked down, though, Eintracht’s inexperience at this level told, as they dropped deeper and deeper. And when Ghilas tapped in a rebound after Trapp had denied substitute Lica, time was up for Veh’s team, who can nevertheless be proud of reaching this stage of the competition.

Bernie Reeves

Line-ups:

Frankfurt: Trapp - Jung, Zambrano, Madlung, Oczipka - Flum, Schwegler - Aigner (Rosenthal , 69'), Meier, Barnetta - Joselu (Lanig, 85')

Porto: Helton - Danilo, Maicon, Mangala, Alex Sandro - Herrera (Ghilas, 45'), Fernando - Carlos Eduardo, Ricardo Quaresma, Varela (Lica, 78') - Jackson (Reyes, 90')

Goals: 1-0 Aigner (37'), 2-0 Meier (52'), 2-1 Mangala (58'), 2-2 Mangala (71'), 3-2 Meier (78'), 3-3 Ghilas, (86')