Eintracht Frankfurt's unbeaten run to winning the UEFA Europa League
Eintracht Frankfurt became only the third club to win the UEFA Europa League without losing a single game from group stage to final. Seeing off opponents from six different nations, bundesliga.com charts Die Adler’s flawless flight through Europe…
Frankfurt 1-1 Fenerbahce
Goals: 0-1 Özil (10’), 1-1 Lammers (41’)
Eintracht returned to the Europa League after a year’s absence. Little did we know, their opening game in Group D against Fenerbahce would offer a teaser for the final to come almost eight months later as Filip Kostic provided the assist for Sam Lammers to equalise and Kevin Trapp saved an added-time penalty to get the campaign under way with a point.
Royal Antwerp 0-1 Frankfurt
Goal: 0-1 Paciencia (pen, 90’+1)
The Bundesliga club’s first away trip of the campaign took them on the relatively short cross-border journey to Belgium, where they dominated Antwerp but had to settle for late penalty drama. Jesper Lindstrom was felled in the box on the stroke of 90 minutes before Goncalo Paciencia converted from the spot for the first three points of the campaign.
Frankfurt 3-1 Olympiacos
Goals: 1-0 Borre (pen, 26’), 1-1 El-Arabi (pen, 30’), 2-1 Toure (45’+3), 3-1 Kamada (59’)
The champions of Greece came to Frankfurt for Matchday 3. Eintracht took the lead when Rafael Borre won and converted a penalty with aplomb. The visitors levelled shortly after with a spot-kick of their own from Youssef El-Arabi before Die Adler forged went ahead again on the stroke of half-time when Almamy Toure tapped in to complete a defence-splitting passing move. Daichi Kamada then put away a rebound to send Frankfurt top of Group D for the first time.
Olympiacos 1-2 Frankfurt
Goals: 1-0 El-Arabi (12’), 1-1 Kamada (17’), 1-2 Hauge (90’+2)
Eintracht would go four points clear with victory in the reverse fixture in Greece. The hosts went ahead through El-Arabi, but Kamada again equalised quickly, latching onto a through ball and directing his shot past the goalkeeper and off the inside of the post. Trapp made a number of crucial stops before Jens Petter Hauge turned in Lindstrom’s cut-back deep in added time.
Frankfurt 2-2 Royal Antwerp
Goals: 1-0 Kamada (13’), 1-1 Nainggolan (33’), 1-2 Samatta (88’), 2-2 Paciencia (90’+4)
Victory on Matchday 5 would see top spot secured but there was once again late drama in Frankfurt. Kamada put the Bundesliga club ahead when he got on the end of a Timothy Chandler cross, but the wheels came off a bit after Radja Nainggolan’s deflected long-range effort beat Trapp. The Belgians thought they’d won it with two minutes to go when Ally Samatta made it 2-1, but a brilliant Paciencia header from a Kostic cross four minutes into added time maintained Frankfurt’s unbeaten start.
Fenerbahce 1-1 Frankfurt
Goals: 0-1 Sow (29’), 1-1 Berisha (42’)
With Olympiacos losing at Antwerp, a draw in Istanbul was enough to earn Eintracht top spot in Group D. Djibril Sow gave the Eagles the lead with an excellent finish from just inside the box after dogged play from Kamada. Mergim Berisha brought the game level when latching onto a loose ball in the area. But it was job done for Frankfurt, finishing on 12 points – three clear of Olympiacos – and going straight to the round of 16, bypassing the play-off round against a team dropping out of the Champions League.
Round of 16
Real Betis 1-2 Frankfurt
Goals: 0-1 Kostic (14’), 1-1 Fekir (30’), 1-2 Kamada (32’)
Somewhat fittingly, Eintracht’s first knockout game took them to the host city of the final, Seville. Although at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, the outcome was the same against Betis. Frankfurt had a host of chances and went ahead through a Kostic chip over Claudio Bravo. Nabil Fekir bent home on the half hour, but Kamada restored the advantage in the first leg two minutes later. It could’ve been even better had Borre not seen a penalty saved in the second half.
Frankfurt 1-1 Real Betis (a.e.t.)
Goals: 0-1 Iglesias (90’), 1-1 Rodriguez og. (120’+1)
The tie was still finely poised going into the return leg in Germany. Both sides came close before Borja Iglesias struck in the 90th minute to level on aggregate and take it to extra-time. But with penalties beckoning, a Kostic free-kick was turned into his own net by Guido Rodriguez to give Die Adler a 3-2 aggregate win and prompt Trapp to ask the question “Why can’t we now go all the way?”.
Frankfurt 1-1 Barcelona
Goals: 1-0 Knauff (48’), 1-1 Torres (66’)
Red card: Tuta
Well, Frankfurt would have to get past competition favourites Barcelona in the final eight. Coach Oliver Glasner praised the discipline of his team, especially after Tuta was sent off for a second yellow card. But they held the lead thanks to a brilliant strike by January loan signing Ansgar Knauff from 20 yards. The Spanish side levelled through Ferran Torres to leave the tie finely poised ahead of the return in Barcelona.
Barcelona 2-3 Frankfurt
Goals: 0-1 Kostic (pen, 4’), 0-2 Borre (36’), 0-3 Kostic (67’), 1-3 Busquets (90’+1), 2-3 Depay (pen, 90’+11)
Red card: Ndicka
It wasn’t finely poised after just four minutes at the Camp Nou, where Eintracht fans took over the stadium to roar on their team. Lindstrom was hauled down in the box and Kostic made no mistake from the spot. The second goal was a thing of beauty as Borre smashed home from almost 25 yards. And Eintracht were three to the good on the night and aggregate when Kostic got his second with a low finish across Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Sergio Busquets got one back at the start of added time with the stadium emptying of home support. Memphis Depay just managed to squeeze a 101st-minute penalty past Trapp, but it was far too late as Frankfurt won 4-3 on aggregate to progress to the semis.
West Ham United 1-2 Frankfurt
Goals: 0-1 Knauff (1’), 1-1 Antonio (21’), 1-2 Kamada (54’)
The raucous Eintracht support then touched down in London for the first leg of the final four. And they were cheering even louder inside 60 seconds when Knauff headed in a Borre cross. Jarrod Bowen hit the post before Michail Antonio brought the hosts level. Kamada restored the advantage when he turned home a loose square ball before Frankfurt’s Europa League top scorer also struck the post. Bowen’s overhead kick off the crossbar meant Die Adler took a lead back to Deutsche Bank Park.
Frankfurt 1-0 West Ham United
Goal: 1-0 Borre (26’)
Red card: Cresswell
After having set up the opener in London, Borre applied the finishing touch in the second leg when the Colombian turned home Hauge’s cut-back. The Norwegian had earlier been fouled as last man, resulting in the dismissal of Aaron Cresswell. Eintracht remained untroubled throughout to earn a 3-1 aggregate victory and book their place in the final of a European competition for the first time since they won the UEFA Cup in 1979/80.
Frankfurt 1-1 Rangers (Eintracht won 5-4 on penalties)
Goals: 0-1 Aribo (57’), 1-1 Borre (69’)
There was plenty of colour on display in Seville as the Andalusian capital played host to two of Europe’s most passionate sets of supporters. Eintracht started the brighter, but a slip from Tuta allowed Joe Aribo to put the Scots ahead shortly before the hour. As they’ve done throughout the campaign, Eintracht hit back quickly, Kostic’s cross from the left being met by the boot of Borre. With just three minutes left in extra-time, Trapp produced a sensational close-range stop to deny Ryan Kent before the Germany international again used his legs to save from Aaron Ramsey in the shootout. It was then Borre who buried the final spot-kick as Frankfurt became the first German team to win the Europa League, doing it with an unbeaten record.
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