Luka Jovic helped ensure Eintracht Frankfurt are still right in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie with Benfica. - © imago images / Revierfoto
Luka Jovic helped ensure Eintracht Frankfurt are still right in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie with Benfica. - © imago images / Revierfoto
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Luka Jovic and Goncalo Paciencia away goals give Eintracht Frankfurt every hope against Benfica

Ten-man Eintracht Frankfurt lost 4-2 on the night to Benfica, but Luka Jovic and Goncalo Paciencia scored priceless away goals to give the Eagles every chance of turning the tie in their favour when the two sides meet in next week’s decisive UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg at the Commerzbank-Arena.

Benfica 4-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Goals: 1-0 Felix (21'), 1-1 Jovic (40'), 2-1 Felix (43'), 3-1 Dias (50'), 4-1 Felix (54'), 4-2 Paciencia (72')
Red card: N'Dicka (19')

Frankfurt went into the game one positive result away from matching Atletico Madrid’s competition record 15-match unbeaten run, but their place in history was dealt a massive blow in the 19th minute when Evan N’Dicka collected a red card for a foul on Gedson Fernandes. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and Joao Felix squeezed his effort beyond Kevin Trapp to give Benfica the lead. Frankfurt continued to attack, though, and were rewarded ten minutes from half time when Jovic tucked away Ante Rebic’s pass. Felix restored the home side’s lead almost immediately, before Filip Kostic had a goal ruled out for offside in first-half added time.

Frankfurt had held their own for much of the contest, but their numerical disadvantage cost them dearly after the restart. After Silva struck the woodwork, Benfica scored twice in four minutes through Ruben Dias and Felix to give the Eagles a mountain to climb in the tie. Trapp made a huge one-on-one save to deny Benfica substitute and former Frankfurt striker Haris Seferovic, before second-half Eintracht introduction Paciencia headed in from Jonathan de Guzman to half the deficit. Kostic spurned a glorious opening for a third and Paciencia headed straight at Odisseas Vlachodimos, but there was more than enough to suggest Eintracht have the firepower to outgun Benfica on home soil on 18 April and win through to the semi-finals.

Portugal international Goncalo Paciencia (r.) made a big impact from the Frankfurt bench in the second half. - getty images

Match stats

  • Frankfurt lost for the first time in this season's competition. It was their first Europa League defeat since the 2013/14 groups.
  • Jovic is on a two-season loan from Benfica to Frankfurt, and has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season, including eight in the Europa League.
  • Paciencia made 40 senior appearances for Portuguese clubs Porto and Vitoria Setubal, before joining Frankfurt last summer.
  • Sebastien Haller, Jovic, Filip Kostic and Ante Rebic have scored 17 of Frankfurt's 25 Europa League goals in 2018/19.
  • Seferovic joined Frankfurt in 2014, scoring 16 goals in 86 appearances, before departing for Benfica in 2017.

Line-ups

Benfica: Vlachodimos – Corchia (Pizzi 66'), Ruben Dias, Jardel (c), Grimaldo – Silva (Seferovic 66'), Samaris (Zivkovic 85'), Fejsa, Cervi – Fernandes, Joao Felix
Unused subs: Svilar, Ribeiro, Florentino, Jota
Out: Almeida (rested), Conti (foot), Ebuehi (ACL), Gabriel (knee), Salvio (thigh)
Coach: Bruno Lage

Frankfurt: Trapp – Hasebe, Abraham (c), Hinteregger, N’Dicka – Da Costa, Rode (Gacinovic 85'), Fernandes (c), Kostic – Rebic (Paciencia 68'), Jovic (de Guzman 60')
Unused subs: Ronnow, Falette, Willems, Torro
Out: Chandler (knee), Haller (abdominal strain), Tawatha (muscular)
Coach: Adi Hütter

As it happened

Benfica 4-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Goals: 1-0 
Felix (21'), 1-1 Jovic (40'), 2-1 Felix (43'), 3-1 Dias (50'), 4-1 Felix (54'), 4-2 Paciencia (72')
Red card: N'Dicka (19')

90+4' FULL-TIME

Frankfurt's 14 match unbeaten run in the UEFA Europa League comes to an end in Lisbon as Benfica win this quarter-final first-leg 4-2. Joao Felix was superb for the hosts, bagging a hat-trick, while Luka Jovic and Goncalo Paciencia secured two valuable away goals for the German side.

Evan N'Dicka's 19th minute sending off meant it was always going to be a challenge for the visitors but they are far from out of this tie. The second-leg takes place in Frankfurt on April 18. Until then, thanks for joining us and we hope to see you again in a week's time.

90+1' PACIENCIA CLOSE AGAIN

This has been a superb cameo from Paciencia and he once again wins the header from a set-piece but this time heads straight at the Benfica 'keeper.

90' FOUR MINUTES ADDED ON

Enough time for some late drama?

85' THE 11TH MAN

Frankfurt's fans have been exceptional tonight and it's sounded like they are the home side for large parts of this game despite their side conceding four goals. They're trying to spur their side on to a third goal as Gacinovic comes on for Rode. Five minutes to go...

80' LAST TEN KLAXON

We have just ten minutes to go now in Lisbon. Can Frankfurt muster up one more goal to take back to Germany?

78' BIG, BIG CHANCE

Frankfurt so close to a third as Paciencia masterfully picks out Kostic but the left-winger can only fire high and wide as he bursts into the box on the angle. It was on his favoured left foot and you'd back a player of his quality to bury that. Another Frankfurt goal would be massive.

72' GOAL! GONCALO PACIENCIA

That Trapp save looks even more significant now and Pacienca has his goal to silence the home fans. A stunning header back across goal from de Guzman's corner is inch perfect. A second away goal reduces the deficit to two and Frankfurt are well and truly still in this quarter-final.

69' SUPER STOP

Seferovic races through on goal and he looks destined to score against his former employers but Trapp sticks out his right boot and saves superbly. That could be crucial in the tie's grand scheme of things.

68' AND A FRANKFURT CHANGE

Paciencia is on, the former Porto man receiving a smattering of boos by the home crowd as he replaces Rebic. What he and his team would give for a goal, now.

66' ANOTHER BENFICA SUB

This one is forced with Corchia hobbling off with an injury and in his place is Pizzi. Frankfurt haven't seen a lot of the ball this half and have gone into damage limitation mode. It's an unfamiliar mindset for such an attack-minded team.

60' A SUB APIECE

A familiar face comes on for one team and exits for the other. Ex-Frankfurt forward Seferovic comes on for Benfica, while de Guzman replaces the German's goal scoring Benfica loanee, Jovic.

58' CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE

You have to hand it to this Benfica side, they have looked sumptuous at times going forward. That N'Dicka red card has really cost Frankfurt and the Portuguese outfit have been ruthless since.

54' GOAL! JOAO FELIX

Oh, dear. Benfica have a fourth and Felix has a hat-trick. Frankfurt have been blasted away in the early stages of this second-half. It's uphill from here.

50' GOAL! RUBEN DIAS

Well, the warning wasn't heeded and just a minute later Benfica have a third. Dias heads home from the hosts' corner and Frankfurt's ten men are under real pressure now.

49' OFF THE POST!

Silva strikes the post for the hosts but it wouldn't have counted as he's offside. An early warning for Frankfurt.

46' SECOND-HALF KICK-OFF

A massive half of football ahead for Frankfurt. What can they take back to Germany? They have one away goal already, which is a good start.

CHANGES AFOOT?

Frankfurt's subs are all warming up at half-time and going through some drills. Could we see an early change from Hütter?

45+2' HALF-TIME

That was eventful, to say the least. Frankfurt, down to ten men after N'Dicka's red card, go into the break a goal behind but they do have a crucial away goal. They briefly thought they were level and they may have a strong case against that goal being chalked off. Still waiting on a replay of that. VAR isn't in use, of course, tonight. Would've been interesting what it made of that one.

45+1' GOAL DISALLOWED

Frankfurt think they're back level with Kostic's strike going through a crowd of players and finding the bottom corner but it's disallowed for offside. It's a very tight call, given against the Frankfurt players deemed to be interfering while trying to come back from offside positions. We'll need to see that one again.

43' GOAL! JOAO FELIX

Well, that didn't last long. Felix absolutely rifles it past Trapp from 20-yards out to put Benfica back in the lead. A superb strike and Eintracht were level for just three minutes.

40' GOAL! LUKA JOVIC

Frankfurt are level! Excellent stuff from the Eagles as Rode wins the ball back high up the pitch and Rebic breaks free from the Benfica defence. He squares it to Jovic and there was no way he was missing with the goal gaping. A massive goal just before half-time. Game on.

37' A BREAK NEEDED

It feels like Frankfurt could do with half-time now with Benfica taking control now. A big test for Hütter and his high-flying side now. After the red card and Benfica goal, the aim will be to still be firmly in the tie when they go back to Frankfurt in a week's time.

28' FRANKFURT STILL GOING FORWARD

They may be a man down but Frankfurt are still playing with adventure. Some superb work from Kostic almost finds Jovic in the penalty area but Benfica clear their lines. A good response to going behind from the visitors.

25' A CHANGE OF PLANS

That red card has meant a slight change to the Frankfurt system. Hasebe has moved back into defence, alongside Hinteregger and Abraham. The rest is largely unchanged but it's more like a 3-4-2 after N'Dicka's sending off.

21' GOAL! JOAO FELIX

Trapp is so close to keeping this out but Felix finds the corner of the net and the hosts are 1-0 in front. Big task ahead for Frankfurt who had been the better side up until then. They will now play with ten men for 70 minutes.

19' PENALTY AND RED CARD!

Huge moment in this game as N'Dicka gives away a penalty and is sent off. Fernandes is about to slot home Felix's wonderful reverse pass but N'Dicka fells him to the floor.

14' DA COSTA THREAT

We've not seen Kostic get too far forward on the left yet but Da Costa is certainly doing so on the opposite flank. Full of running, he is pushing Benfica's left-sided players further and further back into their own half. We're still yet to see a real clear cut chance.

10' FRENETIC FRANKFURT

This game is being played at some pace now with Frankfurt forcing errors in the Benfica midfield with a relentless press. Typically, Frankfurt look a threat every time they go forward but they need to be wary of the pace of Silva and Felix on the break.

5' THROUGH ON GOAL...

This is more like it, Frankfurt are up and running and that blistering attack is threatening the Benfica defence. Jovic breaks through on goal but some superb defending denies the Serbian striker from getting a shot of any real meaning away. The Bundesliga side are pressing Benfica now. On top and looking dangerous.

4' JOVIC BOOKED

Frankfurt hadn't got on the ball really but they manage to force a corner with their first foray into the Benfica half.  Benfica counter and Jovic is found guilty of holding his man back and is booked. No first warning, straight into the book.

1' KICK-OFF

Benfica get us underway in Lisbon. Here. We. Go. This should be good.

TEN MINUTE KLAXON

Not long to go now until we're underway. The teams are all warmed-up and getting their final instructions and will be led out ahead of kick-off shortly.

WHAT AWAITS?

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves but here's a date for the diary while we wait for kick-off in Portugal. The second-leg of this tie will take place in Frankfurt on April 18.

Should Frankfurt advance to the semi-finals, they will go on to face the winner of Chelsea vs. Slavia Prague.

A FIRST FOR THIS FIXTURE

These two sides have never met before, with Porto being the only Portuguese outfit that Frankfurt have ever faced. That was in the away goal exit of the UEFA Europa League round of 32 back in 2013/14.

As for Benfica, they've played 13 different German teams a combined 46 times; winning 13, drawing a further 14 and losing on 19 occasions. Frankfurt will be hoping to make that last one a nice, round 20 tonight.

EAGLES MARCH ON LISBON

As we mentioned previously, over 3,000 Frankfurt fans are in Lisbon to cheer on their team tonight and they're already taking over the city. Club president Peter Fischer joined them earlier on for the procession to the stadium. It's one of those nights that gives you goosebumps just thinking about what's at stake. It should be a cracking atmosphere inside the Estadio Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Just half an hour until kick-off now.

CHANNELLING THE CLASS OF '79/80

This is Frankfurt's first European quarter-final appearance since reaching the 1994/95 UEFA Cup last-eight, where they were defeated by eventual losing finalists Juventus.

The Eagles do have a European trophy in the halls of the Commerzbank-Arena, having lifted the UEFA Cup back in 1980. They beat fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach to the silverware then, courtesy of an away goal victory secured by Fred Schaub's 81st minute goal in the second-leg at the Commerzbank. Will Adi Hütter's men replicate that success of 39 years ago?

FRANKFURT TEAM NEWS

Sebastien Haller misses out for Frankfurt - the French striker has a groin strain - so it's a front two of Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic in Lisbon. Starters against Schalke at the weekend, Jonathan de Guzman and Jetro Willems drop to the bench, with defender Evan N'Dicka and holding midfielder Sebastian Rode restored to the side.

Frankfurt: Trapp – Abraham (c), Hinteregger, N’Dicka – Hasebe, Da Costa, Rode (Gacinovic 85'), Fernandes (c), Kostic – Rebic (Paciencia 68'), Jovic (de Guzman 60')
Subs: Ronnow, Falette, Willems, Torro
Out: Chandler (knee), Haller (abdominal strain), Tawatha (muscular)
Coach: Adi Hütter

BENFICA TEAM NEWS

Coach Bruno Lage springs a surprise by dropping top scorer and former Frankfurt striker Haris Seferovic to the bench. Joao Felix is deployed in the false No.9 role, with support coming from Gedson Fernandes. Sebastien Corchia comes in at right-back for captain Andre Almeida, who is rested.

Benfica: Svilar – Corchia (Pizzi 66'), Ruben Dias, Jardel (c), Grimaldo – Silva (Seferovic 60'), Samaris (Zivkovic 85'), Fejsa, Cervi – Fernandes, Joao Felix
Subs: Svilar, Ribeiro, Florentino, Jota
Out: Almeida (rested), Conti (foot), Ebuehi (ACL), Gabriel (knee), Salvio (thigh)
Coach: Bruno Lage

FRANKFURT'S 12TH MAN

Around 3,000 Frankfurt fans have travelled to Lisbon today. Speaking recently about the special backing Die Adler receive, defender Danny da Costa said, "As a player there’s nothing better than playing in front of a crowd such as this one who also support you in such a way on the road as well. I had never experienced something like this before and to experience it now is incredible."

GONCALO PACIENCIA'S 'SPECIAL SITUATION'

Goncalo Paciencia is another forward who knows a thing or two about what will await Eintracht when they travel to the Estadio da Luz.

The 24-year-old made 40 senior appearances for Portuguese clubs Porto and Vitoria Setubal, before joining Frankfurt last summer.

"I still follow Portuguese football closely and this is a special situation, although I feel quite relaxed about it," Paciencia told Frankfurt's club website. "It's an honour for me to play for Eintracht, and I'm desperate to beat Benfica."

After an injury-hit start to his Eintracht career, Paciencia returned to first-team action in mid-February and scored in back-to-back games the following month.

JOVIC WANTS EXTENDED FRANKFURT STAY

Everyone wants a piece of Luka Jovic, but the Serbian only has eyes for Frankfurt.

The 21-year-old is close to completing his two-year loan spell from Benfica, but Frankfurt have already expressed their desire to trigger a purchase clause and the striker has no plans to force a move elsewhere.

"Luka wants to reach the Champions League with Eintracht and extend his stay in Frankfurt," Jovic's father, Milan, told German newspaper Bild.

There's a good chance he'll get his wish, with Frankfurt currently fourth in the Bundesliga and one of the favourites for the Europa League. Either route would do the trick.

THE STORY SO FAR - BENFICA

Benfica started out in Champions League group E alongside Bayern Munich, Ajax and AEK. After losing twice to Bayern and finishing third - five points adrift of second-placed Ajax - the 2017/18 Primeira Liha runners-up dropped into the Europa League,  where they have accounted for Galatasaray (2-1 on agg.) and Dinamo Zagreb (3-1 on agg.) en route to the quarter-finals.

THE STORY SO FAR - FRANKFURT

Frankfurt have been practically flawless in reaching the quarter-finals, winning eight (including all six in the groups) and drawing two of 10 games, as well as scoring the second-highest number of goals in the competition (24). After seeing off Marseille, Lazio, Apollon Limassol, Shakhtar and Inter Adi Hütter's men will not be afraid of their next challenge on the path to the final in Azerbaijan.

FORM GUIDE - BENFICA

Benfica also won at the weekend, with ex-Frankfurt forward Haris Seferovic scoring twice in a 4-1 victory at Feirense. It was Bruno Lage's 19th game as caretaker coach since replacing Rui Vitoria at the turn of the year, and his record is pretty handy (W14, D2, L3). The Encanardos top the Primeira Liga standings on goal difference, ahead of Champions League quarter-finalists Porto.

FORM GUIDE - FRANKFURT

Frankfurt are unbeaten in this season's Europa League, and haven't lost a single one of their last six Bundesliga matches, most recently dispatching Schalke thanks to a 99th-minute penalty from Luka Jovic. The Eagles occupy fourth place, with a four-point cushion on fixth, in the Bundesliga with six league fixtures to go.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING - BENFICA

Bruno Lage ( Benfica coach): "Eintracht are well organised and strong in attack, which is typical of German teams. We have to deal with that and, when we have the ball, exploit the spaces their system provides. Regardless of their results, which we know about especially in the Europa League, it is important to understand the way they play. They are a very strong team who take advantage of 3-4-3 very well."

Haris Seferovic (Benfica striker): "It's going to be a good match. I'm going to play against some friends. They know me and I know them. It will be good to play against them and see familiar faces."

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING - FRANKFURT

Adi Hütter (Frankfurt coach): "We're really looking forward to a clash between two attack-minded teams. Benfica are maybe the favourites as they're playing at home, but the sides are evenly matched. Our dream lives on. We'll need to put in a top performance in order to put ourselves in a good position going into the return match."

Luka Jovic (Frankfurt striker): "Benfica are very good technically. It'll be difficult, but we can go through if we play well. Our chances are 50-50."

Goncalco Paciencia (Frankfurt striker): "Two big teams are going up against each other here, so I think the chances are 50-50. Benfica have very good players and are really dangerous in front of goal. They're having a great season. They're improving all the time at the back and are always a threat up front."

HARIS SEFEROVIC - REMEMBER HIM?

Swiss striker Haris Seferovic joined Frankfurt in 2014, scoring 16 goals in 86 appearances before departing for Benfica in 2017. The 27-year-old has hit 29 goals in 72 appearances in all competitions for the Portuguese club, albeit with 18 falling in the current Primeira Liga campaign. He also struck once in the Champions League groups, and in Galatasaray in the Europa League last 32.

THE JOVIC FACTOR

Once upon time Luka Jovic was a Benfica player on the fringes of the first team. Now he's Frankfurt's goal-getter supreme. The Serbian has been banging in the goals in this his second of a two-season loan spell from today's Europa League opponents, scoring 17 in the Bundesliga and seven in 10 European outings. Only Olivier Giroud (nine), Munas Dabbur and Wissam Ben Yedder (both eight) have found the net more often in this term's competition.

"I was only 18 when I moved there and it was quite tough, especially at the beginning," Jovic told Frankfurt's official club website. "But I don't regret anything because I was part of a big club like Benfica. It was an important experience for me.

"I'm really looking forward to playing there and seeing old friends. It'll be a difficult game, but if we push ourselves we can beat anyone."

FOURTEEN NOT OUT

If Frankfurt avoid defeat at Benfica they will equal Atletico Madrid's record 15-game unbeaten streak in the UEFA Europa League.

Frankfurt have won eight and drawn their other two matches in the competition this season, building on a four-match undefeated run at the end of their previous appearance in the competition in 2013/14, when they went out on away goals in the round of 32 after drawing 2-2 at Porto and 3-3 on home soil.

Their run is one match short of the Europa League best, set by Atletico (3 November 2011 – 25 October 2012).

GET READY TO ROCK - FRANKFURT STYLE!

These are heady days for Eintracht Frankfurt. DFB Cup winners last season, fourth in the Bundesliga - closing in on UEFA Champions League football - at the business end of 2018/19, the free-scoring Eagles have also been tearing it up in the Europa League. Adi Hütter's men have already accounted for Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan in the knockout rounds, and you wouldn't bet against them doing the job against Benfica in the quarter-finals...