Ten-man Eintracht Frankfurt survived a late FC Schalke 04 onslaught to start their Bundesliga campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory.
Goals: Meier (13')
Red card: Hector (79')
Niko Kovac’s side made a blistering start in searing temperatures at the Commerzbank Arena, Mijat Gacinovic guiding the ball just past the post before Branimir Hrgota’s deflected effort struck the crossbar. Alex Meier then fired wide from a promising position, but the veteran striker made amends moments later when he latched onto Szabolcs Huszti’s exquisite through ball and fired low past the onrushing Ralf Fährmann. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had an effort ruled out before half-time, but an equaliser would have been unjust given the hosts’ first-half dominance.
Markus Weinzierl introduced summer signing Breel Embolo from the bench at the beginning of the second period, but Frankfurt continued to look dangerous and were handed a golden opportunity to double their advantage when Junior Caicara felled Gacinovic inside the penalty area. Meier stepped up, but Ralf Fährmann produced a fine save to keep the score at 1-0. Michael Hector was dismissed for a professional foul on Huntelaar with just over ten minutes to play, but Lukas Hradecky thwarted the Dutchman from the resulting free-kick as Frankfurt held on to claim the three points.
Weinzierl has plenty of firepower at his disposal with Huntelaar, Embolo, Franco Di Santo and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to choose from, but Die Knappen’s toothlessness in attack - prior to Hector's dismissal in particular - will be a major cause for concern for the former FC Augsburg boss. The 41-year-old needs to develop a system that gets the best out of his attacking talents.
- Hrgota was named in the starting line-up in the Bundesliga for the first time in 18 months. Hector won 75 per cent of his challenges before his second-half dismissal.Meier was involved in more Frankfurt's attacks than any of his team-mates.
Frankfurt: Hradecky - Varela, Hector, Abraham, Oczipka - Hasebe, Mascarell - Huszti (Chandler 55'), Gacinovic (Seferovic 90') - Meier (c.), Hrgota (Vallego 81')
Coach: Niko Kovac
Schalke: Fährmann - Caicara, Naldo, Höwedes (c.), Kolasinac (Baba 62') - Geis, Meyer - Aogo (Bentaleb 74'), Choupo-Moting - Huntelaar, Di Santo (Embolo 46')
Coach: Markus Weinzierl