Frankfurt advance to Europa League semi-finals after ‘whiteout’ campaign survives late scare

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Europe: Europa League

Barcelona Sergio Busquets (90), Mr. Depay (pen. 90)

Camp NouFull time2-3

Frankfurt F. Kostic (Pen. 4), R. Borre (36), F. Kostic (67), E.N’Dicka (90)

By Peter Vice

Some 30,000 traveling Eintracht Frankfurt supporters will ‘paint the city white’ tonight in the Catalan capital.

SGE survived a late scare to hold FC Barcelona 3-2 and advance to the Europa League semi-finals for the second time in four years.

Following RB Leipzig’s victory in Bergamo earlier in the evening, German football will have two representatives in the 2021/22 Europa League semi-finals. A coordinated campaign to dress the team and supporters in “Madrid White” when visiting Barcelona ended up being successful. Eintracht Frankfurt overcame hosts Catalonia 3-2 to win the quarters 4-3 on aggregate.

Eintracht repeated their 2018/19 tournament performance and progressed to the semi-finals. An absolutely wild game at Camp Nou started to look like Bayern’s 8-2 demolition against Barca in the 2019/20 Champions League quarter-finals. However, the La Liga side simply didn’t let it go and fought back to score two goals in injury time.

SGE coach Oliver Glasner had to do without suspended defender Lucas Silva “Tuta” Melo and injured defensive midfielder Djibril Sow. As expected, Almamy Touré replaced the Brazilian in the bottom three. Eintracht normal team captain Sebastian Rode was able to replace Sow in midfield. Glasner’s formation remained his standard 3-4-3/3-6-1.

The match got off to a most unfortunate start for the hosts. After the visiting Germans began with brave offensive charges, Eric Garcia brought down Jesper Lindstrøm in the penalty area in the 3rd. Portuguese match official Artur Soares Dias immediately pointed the finger. Barca coach Xavi could only shake his head. After his side conceded three penalties in La Liga at the weekend, they offered their guests a chance to take an early lead.

Filip Kostic duly converted for the 1-0. The hosts fought hard in search of an equaliser. Former Dortmund player Ousmane Dembelé has caused quite a bit of trouble on the right. Frankfurt were nevertheless sure to prevent the skillful FCB striker from giving goalkeeper Kevin Trapp real trouble, in some cases doubling or tripping him up. Trapp was finally called into action in the 18th when Ronald Araujo tried his luck from distance.

The Spanish hosts kept most of the ball and, heading into the half-hour mark, generated a few attacks down the left via Ferran Torres. Only a bold tackle from Kristijan Jakic stopped the Spanish national team striker in the 22nd minute. Jakic would earn a warning from Soares after a body block on Torres two minutes later. Beyond a few soft counters, Frankfurt wasn’t managing much. Torres was active again in the 28th.

A Rode ball win in the 34th dispatched last week’s dream scorer Ansgar Knauff. The Dortmund loanee did an extremely good job of getting rid of three FCB markers before entering the box. Knauff’s last effort was ultimately too docile to trouble Marc André ter Stegen. It was absolutely not the case with two minutes late. Eintracht’s Colombian striker Rafael Santos Borré gave a howl from 22 yards out.

Ter Stegen couldn’t hit the hellfire missile all the way. The German guests suddenly led 2-0 after Borré’s incredible goal. Playing with a huge confidence-boosting tailwind, Kanuff, Jakic, Rode and Daichi Kamada all had cracks at 3-0 potential before the end of the half. The score nevertheless held. Coach Xavi brought in Torres’ goal assist last Thursday – Frankie de Jong – for Pedri at half-time.

A chance to pull one off was not long in coming right after the reboot. Unfortunately for the hosts, former Bundesliga star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a keeper in the 47th. Dembelé – the other former Dortmund player – was back in force on the right. Rode stood against him in the 50th. Martin Hinteregger launched an excellent block on another Dembele cross in the 55th minute.

Trapp made a great save against Aubameyang in the same minute. Barca’s initial wave was certainly very impressive and home fans awoke to defy the noise generated by the away SGE contingent. Glasner’s German guests roared onto the pitch in former Kamada and Lindstrøm’s chances as the hour mark approached.

A long delay interrupted the proceedings when video relay problems prevented referee Dias from reviewing a potential handball from Borré in the box. After six long minutes, no penalty was awarded. Shortly after open play resumed, Kostic completed a pass from Kamada for the 3-0 in the 67th. Considering the passivity of Barca’s pressing on the game, it was assumed that it was all over.

A flurry of chances from Eintracht between the 74th and 80th seemed to confirm it. All odds were in Frankfurt’s direction. When what appeared to be a consolation goal from Sergio Busquet in the 85th minute was retaken for offside, it really looked like it just wasn’t Barcelona’s night. As the match entered nine minutes of added time, Busquets scored a goal that counted at 90+1.

Many Barca fans had already exited the arena by this stage, but those who remained tried to cheer their team on for the unlikely miracle. The Blaugrana did their best to oblige. Luuk de Jong didn’t miss much at 90+3. Hinteregger pulled off a heroic sliding clearance to stop Adama Traoré at 90+4. The bookings came thick and fast during the tense finish. Glasner and Xavi saw the yellow deep into injury time.

Insane enough, Barca were rewarded with a 90+10 penalty when N’dicka was judged for elbowing Luuk de Jong in an aerial challenge into the box. Trapp guessed the correct path on Memphis Depay’s kick, but couldn’t stop the ball bouncing off the crossbar and down the line. Trapp tried to hold onto the ball to kill the final seconds.

Match official Soares Dias opted to book Trapp for his time-wasting tactic, but decided not to add more time to the match. The full-time whistle officially sounded at 90+12, before the hosts could restart from the halfway line. Frankfurt ended up barely hanging on for a slim 3-2 victory.

Barcelona
(4-3-3)
1 Mr. ter Stegen
22 O. Mingueza Garcia ↪61
4 R. Araujo
24 E. Garcia ↪70
18 J.Alba
16 Pedri ↪46
5 Sergio Busquets (VS)
30 Pablo Gaviria
7 O. Dembele
25 P.Aubameyang ↪61
19 F.Torres ↪80
Bench
13 neto
36 A. Tenas Urena
9 Mr. Depay ↩80
11 A. Traore ↩61
12 Mr Braithwaite
17 L. de Jong ↩70
2 S.Dest ↩61
15 C. Lenglet
31 A. Balde Martinez
6 R. Puig Marti
21 F. de Jong ↩46
28 N. González Iglesias
Frankfurt
(3-4-2-1)
1 K. Trapp
18 A.Toure ↪90
13 Mr Hinteregger
2 E.N’Dicka
36 A. Knauff ↪90
6 K. Jakic
17 S.Rode (VS) ↪80
ten F. Kostic
29 J.Lindstrom ↪80
15 D. Kamada
19 R. Borre ↪90
Bench
31 J. Grahl
47 J.Horz
9 S. Lammers
21 R.Aché ↩90
23 J.Hauge ↩80
39 G. Paciência
20 Mr Hasebe ↩90
24 D. da Costa
25 C.Lenz
7 A. Hrustic ↩80
22 T.Chandler ↩90
27 A.Barkok
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