Ka goals, but a lot of fight, heart and passion. After the 0:3 at the start of the Champions League campaign against Sporting Lisbon and the 1:0 at Olympique Marseille, Eintracht kept all options open with the 0:0 against the third opponent Tottenham Hotspur, in the exciting group D the dream goal to reach the round of 16.
Coach Oliver Glasner’s team put on a strong performance on Tuesday evening in the sold-out arena with 50,500 spectators against the supposed top favourites, with whom the Frankfurt team will have to deal a second time next week in the second leg in London.
“Of course we would have liked to win, but we’ll take a 0-0 win with us,” said national goalkeeper Kevin Trapp after the game on Amazon Prime: “We did it very concentrated and also had our situations forward. If we made better use of the chances to score, we could have done better.”
Antonio Conte, the English team’s Italian coach, somehow sensed it. “It’s going to be a tough game,” he said to set the mood. “Eintracht won the Europa League and is one of the best teams in Germany. The group is very balanced.”
An assessment that was confirmed by the result of the other two group opponents. Olympique Marseille managed their first win with a 4-1 win against leaders Sporting Lisbon. All four teams have every chance of qualifying for the knockout phase with the remaining three rounds of play.
The Frankfurt supporters had come up with something special for the second premier class home game. Instead of working extensively with pictures and words, as is usually the case, this time it was a huge sea of flags in black, white and red that greeted the players.
The task against the English was clear: Glasner’s team finally wanted their first full success in front of their own crowd. “We’re playing to win,” said the Eintracht coach in preparation for the showdown with Tottenham. Anything else would have been surprising.
After all, his team has been on the upswing for weeks. Spurred on by the 1-0 win in Marseille and further victories in the core business of the Bundesliga, Eintracht’s self-confidence had grown significantly. “A great opponent, completely floodlit, I’m really happy,” said Frankfurt captain Sebastian Rode.
An opponent who occupied Eintracht from the start. It was a game of high intensity and fine combinations. Applause erupted from the stands as Eintracht combined swiftly and tried to break through Hotspur’s solid defence. A difficult, challenging task that Glasner’s team took on with great passion. In the 18th minute it was Rode who was unlucky with his shot, as it was deflected slightly but decisively.
Tottenham initially limited themselves entirely to goal protection. The third-placed Premier League player rarely penetrated the Frankfurt defense in a dangerous manner. In the 25th minute, it was captain Harry Kane, who was slipping on his knees, who landed in the Frankfurt goal – but not the ball. Kane, who has scored an impressive 255 goals in 396 games so far, tried three minutes later with a shot, but he did swept past the left post.
Heung-Min Son was responsible for Tottenham’s best action (40′). It was important for Eintracht to get through the final minutes before the change of sides unscathed, as Ivan Perisic also had a good chance to score (43′). It was sort of a Croatian co-production as his shot bounced off Kristijan Jakic’s leg.
Knauf has the best chance
With Mario Götze absent due to an ankle injury sustained in the Bundesliga game against Union Berlin, a lot of strategic work fell on Daichi Kamada’s shoulders. The Japanese has the best experience with competitive games against English teams. The Japanese has scored three goals in four recent Europa League games against Arsenal and West Ham United. Against Tottenham he was keen to follow up with goal number four. But against the well-organized defense of the Londoners, he couldn’t get into the right shooting position.
Kamada’s compatriot Makoto Hasebe, who has been in impressive form for weeks, was also the calming influence in Frankfurt’s three-man defense against Tottenham. Djibril Sow returned to the starting XI, as expected, and it was the Swiss who lobbed Ansgar Knauff.
But his shot in the penalty area lacked the last ounce of fortune (50th). In front of the eyes of national coach Hansi Flick, who watched the Champions League game alongside Eintracht board spokesman Axel Hellmann, Frankfurt continued to push their efforts to put Tottenham under pressure.
In the 56th minute, Glasner decided to make the first change of staff. Randal Kolo Muani, who was not able to assert himself as desired, left the field. Colombian Rafael Borré came into play for the Frenchman. A short time later, Glasner and his players already had the goal scream on their lips. But Jesper Lindström, the winning goal scorer in the 1-0 win in Marseille and also in great form for weeks, missed from 16 meters (60th).
When Rode was substituted in the 71st minute, the spectators rose from their seats. The captain received a lot of applause for a strong game in which Luca Pellegrini now intervened. Junior Dina Ebimbe also came on for Lindström (86′) and did everything to win. But the bulwark of Hotspur held.