Baku - Eintracht Frankfurt returned to the European stage after a seven-year hiatus with a 2-0 away victory over Qarabag Agdam FK in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off round meeting.

A goal in each half from Alexander Meier, one of two survivors from Frankfurt's previous sojourn into Europe, sealed the result for the Eagles in the Azerbaijani capital and leaves Armin Veh's men well-placed to finish the job on home turf next Thursday and move through to the group stage proper.

Frankfurt in control

The visitors could not have hoped for a much better start than Meier's opener with just six minutes on the clock, the high-scoring attacking midfielder drilling Stefano Celozzi's waist-high cross under the crossbar to put Qarabag on the back foot straight away. They responded well initially, albeit without making any real inroads into the Eintracht defence and midway through the half Takashi Inui came within inches of doubling the Bundesliga outfit's advantage, slipping his marker and slamming a shot off the post.

The best chances of the remainder of the half also fell to the guests, Meier and Johannes Flum passing up a double opportunity and Srdjan Lakic coming off second-best one-on-one with home keeper Miro Varvodic. Lakic had another effort clawed out of the corner by Vardovic at the start of the second 45, after which Frankfurt looked largely content to manage proceedings against their deep-lying hosts.

Meier at the double

The tactic could have misfired as a period of slack Eintracht passing seemed to encourage Qarabag to start upping their own game somewhat inside the final 20 minutes. But with quarter of an hour remaining, Meier latched onto a ball from Stefan Aigner and finished well into the far corner, completing a captain's job in fine style and taking Armin Veh's side one substantial step closer to the coveted group phase.


Qarabag: Varvodic - Garayev (Yusifov 61'), Medvedev, R. F. Sadygov, Teli - Agolli, Chumbinho - Gelashvili (Kapolongo 62'), Muarem (Nadyrov 69'), Richard - George

Frankfurt: Trapp - Celozzi, Zambrano, Anderson, Oczipka - Rode (Djakpa 85'), Flum (Russ 80') - Aigner, Meier, Inui (Lanig 69') - Lakic

Goals: 0-1 Meier (6'), 0-2 Meier (75')