Eintracht Frankfurt's effervescent attacking might was on display once again as they dominated much of their UEFA Europa League last-16 first leg match at home to Inter Milan on Thursday, but nevertheless had goalkeeper Kevin Trapp to thank for keeping them in the game after his first-half penalty save ensured it ended 0-0.
Frankfurt 0-0 Inter Milan
Anyone expecting a tactical game of cat-and-mouse against a defence-first Italian side will have been pleasantly surprised by an open encounter at the Commerzbank-Arena. Luka Jovic provided a hint of his attacking menace with a shot that flew just wide of the target, while Mijat Gacinovic also went close with a mazy run and shot inside the box. The major talking point of the first half came at the opposite end of the pitch, however, when Gelson Fernandes barged Lautaro Martinez over inside the Frankfurt penalty area. Marcelo Brozovic stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick, but Kevin Trapp dived the right way to make a superb save and keep the sides on level terms at the break.
The hosts began strongly after the interval and pushed forward with even greater intent. Sebastien Haller had the ball in the net just five minutes after the restart, only to see his effort ruled out for offside, before Danny Da Costa, Jovic and Martin Hinteregger all spurned presentable opportunities for Adi Hütter's men. The Eagles kept pushing for a winner to give themselves a slender advantage ahead of the return leg next week, but they could find no way through a resilient Inter side. Nevertheless, Hütter's men can take heart from an encouraging display that leaves the tie finely poised.
- Frankfurt are unbeaten on home turf in European competition this season. After winning all six group games, they beat Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 at the Commerzbank-Arena in the previous round.
- Jovic remains the 2019 Europa League's second-highest scorer with six goals, one behind Salzburg's Munas Dabbur. Haller has five; Rebic one.
- Eintracht beat Serie A's Lazio (who recently knocked Inter out of the Coppa Italia on penalties) 4-1 at home and 2-1 away in the group stage. Their overall record against Italian sides is: W4, D2, L2.
- Ante Rebic was a 2018 FIFA World Cup runner-up with Croatia alongside Inter duo Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic.
- Perisic played in Germany for Borussia Dortmund (2011–13) and Wolfsburg (2013–15). The Croatian registered 27 goals and 16 assists in 112 Bundesliga appearances.
- Inter's record against German clubs reads: W16, D9, L13.
Frankfurt: Trapp – Hinteregger, Hasebe, N’Dicka – Da Costa, Rode (Willems 77'), Fernandes (c), Kostic – Gacinovic – Haller (Paciencia 80'), Jovic
Out: Chandler (fitness), Rebic (knee)
Unused subs: Rönnow, Falette, de Guzman, Stendera, Russ,
Coach: Adi Hütter
Inter: Handanovic (c) - D'Ambrosio, de Vrij, Skriniar, Asamoah - Vecino, Brozovic - Politano, Valero (Cedric 79'), Perisic (Candreva 58') - Martinez
Unused subs: Padelli, Ranocchia, Miranda, Schiro, Merola
Out: Vrsalkjo (knee), Nainggolan (knee), Keita (thigh)
Coach: Luciano Spalletti
As it happened
Frankfurt improved in the second half, but they will head to the San Siro next week needing to build on a goalless draw.
90' THREE EXTRA MINUTES
There will be three minutes added on. Still time for a winner?
89' GACINOVIC CLOSE!
Another chance for Frankfurt with Gacinovic this time denied by Handanovic. Still time for a winner? Frankfurt think so!
87' KOSTIC CLOSE!
That was almost the opening goal! Kostic's shot was aiming for the bottom corner, but Handanovic has made a great save to keep Inter in the game.
82' YELLOW CARD: FERNANDES
Fernandes, who has also played in Serie A in the past, is the next name in the book. He also misses the return leg.
Cedric comes on for Valero for Inter, while Paciencia - Frankfurt's hero at the weekend, don't forget - replaces Haller.
77' WILLEMS ON
A change for Frankfurt with Willems replacing Rode.
71' HINTEREGGER CHANCE!
That's the closest Frankfurt have come yet, but Handanovic makes a great save from Hinteregger's drive.
Kostic is brought down by D'Ambrosio right on the edge of the area. He falls into the area, but the referee gives a free-kick. It's still in a dangerous position!
59' YELLOW CARD: ANTONIO CANDREVA
Less than 60 seconds on the field and Candreva has already been booked! He was not one of the Inter players a yellow away from a ban, though.
57' INTER SUB
Italian winger Antonio Candreva comes on for Inter, replacing Ivan Perisic, who has an injury.
55' JOVIC CLOSE!
Frankfurt are getting closer and closer and closer! Jovic nearly puts them in front and they need to make the most of this excellent spell!
54' HÜTTER SENT OFF!
Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter is ordered to leave his bench for kicking water bottles amid his frustration that no penalty was given!
53' PENALTY SHOUT!
There are screams for a penalty as Haller goes down in the area under the pressure of D'Ambrosio. The referee thinks about it, but waves play on – then he produces a yellow card for Hasebe for protesting!
This is much better from Frankfurt! Da Costa whips the ball in and it is put behind for another corner. Frankfurt then have the ball in the back of the net from Haller, but the goal is ruled out for offside!
49' HINTEREGGER CLOSE!
Hinteregger gives Inter goalkeeper Handanovic some work to do with a header from the corner, but it is too close to the Slovenian custodian to cause him any problems.
48' CORNER FRANKFURT
A bright start to the second half from Frankfurt and Haller forces a corner.
We are back underway in Frankfurt, as the rain continues to come down.
HALF-TIME FRANKFURT 0-0 INTER
Frankfurt have Kevin Trapp to thank for keeping them on terms at the break, with his saves from a Brozovic penalty and a subsequent Skriniar effort crucial. Jovic has sent in a sighter, though, and the fans are doing their best to spur the Eagles into life. It's goalless at half-time.
41' CHANCE INTER
Inter are still pushing for a goal and they go close again, with Vecino's glancing header going wide of the far post. That temporarily brings an end to the Frankfurt fans' relentless backing for their team, but they find their voice again soon after.
34' YELLOW CARD: LAUTARO MARTINEZ
A second yellow card for Inter, and a second player who is consequently banned for the second leg – this time it is Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez.
32' FRANKFURT 0-0 INTER
The flags are being waved again as the home fans try to lift their team. The atmosphere is amazing in the Commerzbank Arena tonight.
24' YELLOW CARD: ASAMOAH
Asamoah is the first Inter name to go into the referee's book, and it means he will miss the return leg next week.
23' TRAPP AGAIN!
Another chance thwarted from the resulting corner, Trapp again making a great save to keep the Eagles on level terms.
22' TRAPP SAVES!
Kevin Trapp dives the right way and turns Marcelo Brozovic's spot-kick behind for a corner!
21' PENALTY INTER!
Fernandes fouls Lautaro Martinez and the referee points to the spot!
16' GACINOVIC SHOT
Just after the first Frankfurt shot, there's the first one on target, but it's easy for Samir Handanovic to deal with as Gacinovic's shot was straight at him.
15' JOVIC CLOSE!
The first shot of the game from a Frankfurt player, and it is Jovic who drags his low shot just wide of the far post. An encouraging sign for the Eagles!
10' CORNER FRANKFURT
Haller gets to the goalline and pulls the ball back, earning the first corner of the game as it is put behind by an Inter defender.
7' HASEBE CONCERN
Hasebe has taken a knock and is looking a bit weary. He's been down for over a minute, but the physios have not come on. Hütter has nevertheless sent his subs to get warmed up.
4' YELLOW CARD: KOSTIC
The first booking of the night goes to Kostic, who fouls Politano on the edge of the area. He doesn't agree with the Scottish referee's decision to take the card out so early in the game.
3' FRANKFURT 0-0 INTER
You can tell when Inter are in possession due to the deafening whistles – the home fans doing the best they can to put the Italian team off.
We are underway, with 48,000 flags still being waved. The atmosphere is electric!
The whole of the Commerzbank Arena is involved in one colossal choreo!
Frankfurt pose a pretty big threat of their own, though. In fact, they have the best record of any club in Europe this season, with seven wins and a draw.
PERISIC THE THREAT
A familiar face returns to Germany in the form of Ivan Perisic, who used to play for both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg. Frankfurt fans be warned: since Icardi was stripped of the club captaincy, the Croatian has come into his own and posed one of the Serie A club's greatest threats.
It was bright and sunny in Frankfurt earlier today, but the heavens have just opened. That should at least ensure a slick surface, as long as it doesn't keep raining with such intensity for long!
Inter arrive with their coach Luciano Spalletti celebrating his 60th birthday. But will he have reason to celebrate tonight? We'll soon find out!
EAGLE EYES ON JOVIC
Heading into tonight's round of 16, Jovic is still second in the UEL scoring charts with six goals. Frankfurt, meanwhile, are the tournament's top scorers with 23
The line-ups have been announced as we get closer to kick-off - just over an hour to go now!
WATCH OUT FOR THE CHOREOGRAPHY
It looks as if a stadium-wide choreography has been planned by the Frankfurt fans tonight, with leaflets spread around the stadium explaining what fans should do. The perfect way to give the players an incredible boost before kick-off.
A GOOD OMEN?
Eintracht beat Serie A's Lazio (who recently knocked Inter out of the Coppa Italia on penalties) 4-1 at home and 2-1 away in the group stage. The Eagles are also unbeaten in their last 12 Europa League games.
JOVIC AND HALLER, BUT NO REBIC...
Frankfurt's terrifying trio have been temporarily disbanded, with Ante Rebic out with a knee injury for at least the first leg. Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic will be tasked with making up for the Croatian's absence. With six goals for Jovic and five goals for Haller in the competition already, that will surely not be a problem.
FRANKFURT'S MAGIC CAMPAIGN SO FAR
Six goals against Marseille, six goals against Lazio, five goals against Apollon during the group stages saw Frankfurt qualify with a perfect six-win record. Then another six goals over two legs against Shakhtar Donetsk saw them cruise through to this tie against Inter having scored 23 goals in eight matches.
We're just over two hours from kick-off in Frankfurt, as the Eagles play host to Inter Milan in what is a mouth-watering UEFA Europa League last 16 tie. These two sides have never met in European competition before tonight.
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