Eintracht Frankfurt beat Sao Paulo 2-1 in their Florida Cup opener in St. Petersburg, with Ante Rebic and an Igor Vinicius own goal securing the victory for the Eagles.

Eintracht took an early lead when Rebic stroked home from the penalty spot, but Nene equalised for the Brazilian outfit ten minutes into the second half. Vinicius’ own goal restored the Eagles’ advantage just eight minutes later, however, and Adi Hütter’s side held on to make a winning start to their Florida Cup campaign.

Personnel: Strong Eagles XI

Head coach Hütter named a strong side for the Eagles’ Florida Cup opener, making just five changes to the team that lost to Bayern Munich on Bundesliga Matchday 17. David Abraham, Makoto Hasebe, Jonathan de Guzman and Rebic were all included in the starting XI, with Branimir Hrgota also handed a rare start in attack. Sébastien Haller and Luka Jovic were named among the substitutes.

First half: Rebic fires Eintracht ahead

Hütter’s team were quick to settle and were gifted an early opportunity to take the lead when Jetro Willems was tripped by Bruno Peres in the penalty area after the 28-year-old had lost possession on the edge of his own box. Rebic made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick, firing past Tiago Volpi to make it 1-0 inside ten minutes. De Guzman forced Volpi into a smart save just after the half-hour mark, before Helinho sent a powerful shot just over Kevin Trapp’s crossbar soon afterwards. Hudson came within inches of connecting with Reinaldo’s teasing cross five minutes before the interval, but the Eagles made it to half-time with their narrow lead intact.

Second half: Changes aplenty

Eintracht made ten substitutions at the interval, with Hrgota the only survivor from the first half. The changes in personnel did little to disrupt the Eagles’ rhythm as Haller fired Taleb Tawatha’s low cross just wide of the target not long after the restart, but Nene’s smart finish restored parity for the Brazilian giants following an error by Hrgota. They were level for just eight minutes, however, Vinicius turning Jovic’s cross into his own net from point-blank range. Frederik Rönnow had to be on his toes to deny Everton with a quarter of an hour remaining, but there was no way back for Sao Paulo as the Eagles held on for the win.

Rode: “It was pretty good”

After the match, midfielder Gelson Fernandes gave his assessment: “We came up against a good side, we defended well and created the better chances. The legs were a bit heavy from all the training we’ve done this week.” Marc Stendera, who got some valuable minutes on the pitch, commented: “It was a very intensive game. I think we deserved to win.” Sebastian Rode, meanwhile, was pleased to make his first appearance since rejoining Eintracht. "It was very important that we salvaged the win. On a personal note, it was important to get some playing time. My understanding with my team-mates was lacking in places but overall it was pretty good. It wasn’t easy to get into the game to begin with but that improved as time wore on. We’re up against technically strong opponents on Saturday but again, it’s within our grasp to win the game.”
Hütter summarised: “I was very pleased with how far up the pitch we played, particularly in the first half. We were the better team after the break but Sao Paulo are a technically skilled side, so it wasn’t easy. Ante Rebic had a very good game. All in all, I’m very pleased with how the training camp has gone. The lads have shown a lot of enthusiasm, commitment and sharpness. We’ll now shift the focus in training to tactical elements.”

SGE line-up (first half):

Trapp – Abraham, Hasebe, Ndicka – Da Costa, Kostic – de Guzman, Fernandes, Willems – Hrgota, Rebic

SGE line-up (second half):

Rönnow – Falette, Salcedo, Russ – Hrgota, Tawatha – Fabián, Rode, Stendera – Jovic, Haller

Goals:

1-0 Rebic (9’ pen)
1-1 Nene (56’)
2-1 Vinicius (64’ og)


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