Eintracht Frankfurt’s unbeaten run to winning the UEFA Europa League

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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…

Group stage

Frankfurt 1-1 Fenerbahce
Goals: 0-1
Easy (10 ‘), 1-1 Lammers (41 ‘)

Eintracht returned to the Europa League after a year 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 equalize and Kevin Trapp saved an added-time penalty to get the campaign under way with a point.

Sam Lammers (l.) Turned in a Filip Kostic (r.) Cross to get Frankfurt up and running against Fenerbahce. – imago

Royal Antwerp 0-1 Frankfurt
Goal: 0-1
Patient (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.

Goncalo Paciencia’s late penalty in Antwerp got Frankfurt their first win of the group stage. – IMAGO / Jan Huebner / IMAGO / Jan Huebner

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 The Adler forged went ahead again on the stroke of half-time when Almamy Toure tapped in to complete a defense-splitting passing move. Daichi Kamada then put away a rebound to send Frankfurt top of Group D for the first time.

Rafael Borre got the first of his four Europa League goals against Olympiacos. – Revierfoto via www.imago-images.de/imago images / Revierfoto

Olympiacos 1-2 Frankfurt
Goals: 1-0
Al-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 Al-Arabi, but Kamada again equalized 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.

Jens Petter Hauge’s (r.) Late winner in Greece put Eintracht in control of Group D. – Klodian Lato / Eurokinissi via www.imago-images.de/imago images / ANE Edition

Frankfurt 2-2 Royal Antwerp
Goals: 1-0
Kamada (13 ‘), 1-1 Nainggolan (33 ‘), 1-2 Samatta (88 ‘), 2-2 Patient (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.

Goncalo Paciencia headed in late again against Antwerp to keep Frankfurt unbeaten. – imago

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.

Timothy Chandler and Djibril Sow (lr.) Helped round out an unbeaten group stage and progress to the round of 16. – Seskimphoto via www.imago-images.de/imago images / Seskim Photo

Round of 16

Real Betis 1-2 Frankfurt
Goals: 0-1
Kostic (14 ‘), 1-1 Fekir (30 ‘), 1-2 Kamada (32 ‘)

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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 have been even better had Borre not seen a penalty saved in the second half.

Daichi Kamada got one of his team-leading five Europa League goals in the round of 16 first leg at Real Betis. – IMAGO / Gonzales Photo / Mario Diaz Rasero / IMAGO / Gonzales Photo

Frankfurt 1-1 Real Betis (aet)
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 beckoning penalties, a Kostic free-kick was turned into his own net by Guido Rodriguez to give The Adler a 3-2 aggregate win and prompt Trapp to ask the question “Why can’t we now go all the way?”.

Jubilation as an own goal in the 121st minute saw Frankfurt beat Real Betis on aggregate. – IMAGO / Revierfoto / IMAGO / Revierfoto

Quarter-finals

Frankfurt 1-1 Barcelona
Goals: 1-0
Knauff (48 ‘), 1-1 Torres (66 ‘)
Red card: creepers

Well, Frankfurt would have to get past competition favorites 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.

Ansgar Knauff set Frankfurt on their way against favorites Barcelona. – imago

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.

Rafael Borre delivered a thunderbolt at the Camp Nou to help eliminate Barcelona. – IMAGO / Siu Lau / IMAGO / Jan Huebner

Semi-finals

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 The Adler took a lead back to Deutsche Bank Park.

Daichi Kamada’s fifth of the campaign ensured a first-leg lead over West Ham. – IMAGO / Kevin Voigt / IMAGO / Jan Huebner

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.

The Colombian striker had a hand in a goal in each of Frankfurt’s last four games in the Europa League. – IMAGO / osnapix / IMAGO / osnapix

ultimate

Frankfurt 1-1 Rangers (Eintracht won 5-4 on penalties)
Goals: 0-1
Aribo (57 ‘), 1-1 Borre (69 ‘)

There was plenty of color 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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