Eagles narrowly beaten in Strasbourg
Eintracht Frankfurt will have to come from behind to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage after losing 1-0 at RC Strasbourg in the first leg of their play-off.
Roared on by a partisan home crowd, Strasbourg took the lead when Kevin Zohi beat Kevin Trapp from close range following a corner. The Eagles improved in the second half and fashioned numerous opportunities to equalise, but it was not enough to prevent Adi Hütter’s side from suffering their first defeat of the campaign.
Personnel: Torro in for Kohr
Hütter made just one change to the Eintracht team that beat TSG Hoffenheim 1-0 in their Bundesliga opener, replacing Dominik Kohr with Lucas Torro. Defender Martin Hinteregger – who scored the winner at the Commerzbank-Arena on Sunday – kept his place in defence after recovering from a knock, while Ante Rebic was supported in attack by Daichi Kamada and Mijat Gacinovic.
First half: Hosts strike first
There was little to choose between the two sides in the early stages at the Stade de la Meinau, but Eintracht were fortunate not to fall behind on 12 minutes when Ludovic Ajorque fired into the side-netting after brushing off challenges from Makoto Hasebe and David Abraham. Filip Kostic tested Mats Sels’ reflexes with a firmly struck free-kick, but the hosts went in front when Dimitri Lienard’s corner was bundled home by Zohi shortly after the half-hour mark. The hosts could have doubled their lead before the break, but Ajorque could only turn Adrien Thomasson’s cross narrowly wide of Trapp’s goal.
Second half: No way through for Eintracht
Hütter responded by making a double change at half-time, replacing Gacinovic and Rebic with Sebastian Rode and Goncalo Paciencia. The switch appeared to have the desired effect, as Eintracht began to lay siege to the Strasbourg goal. Kamada shot straight at Sels within seconds of the restart, and the Japanese attacker went even closer five minutes later when he skipped past two defenders before shooting low at Sels, who somehow managed to tip the ball wide of the post.
Ajorque drilled a low effort off target after 59 minutes, before Kostic flashed a shot wide at the other end as the Eagles continued to push for an equaliser. It wasn’t to be, however, as the hosts held on to secure a 1-0 aggregate lead ahead of next week’s return leg at the Commerzbank-Arena.
Summary: Still all to play for
This was not the result Hütter and his players were hoping for, but the Eagles head coach will be encouraged by his side’s second-half performance at the Stade de la Meinau. In front of their home fans at a sold-out Commerzbank-Arena, the Eagles will fancy their chances of overturning the first-leg deficit and sealing their place in the group stages of the competition for a second year running.
Trapp - Abraham, Hasebe, Hinteregger - da Costa, Torro, Fernandes (Kohr 78’), Kostic - Kamada, Gacinovic (Rode 46’) - Rebic (Paciencia 46’)
1-0 Zohi (33’)