European hopes on hold
Eintracht Frankfurt fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to local rivals 1. FSV Mainz 05, leaving all to play for in the race for European qualification on the final day of the season.
In an entertaining but ultimately unsuccessful duel at the Commerzbank-Arena on Sunday, the Eagles came up short against a spirited Mainz side, and slip to sixth place in the Bundesliga table.
Personnel: Fernandes back in the fold
Sebastian Rode was unavailable after suffering a serious knee injury against Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League that has sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Consequently, Adi Hütter called on the services of Gelson Fernandes to plug the sizeable gap in midfield left by Rode’s absence. That one change aside, the Eintracht coach kept faith with the same line-up as on Thursday night, and included Sébastien Haller, now fully recovered from his stomach muscle injury, in a Bundesliga squad for the first time since 31 March.
First half: End-to-end encounter
Eintracht burst out of the starting blocks, clearly intent on giving the already raucous home support something to cheer about, but the visitors were quick to show they had not made the short trip to Frankfurt to make up the numbers. Luka Jovic was unfortunate not to give his side the lead with just two minutes on the clock, while a counter-attacking Mainz outfit looked dangerous at the other end, with Jean-Philippe Mateta and Danny Latza proving a handful for the Eagles’ defence and bringing the best out of Kevin Trapp. In the 19th minute, Filip Kostic showed great energy to win the ball down the left flank and set up Ante Rebic for what looked like a certain goal, but the Croatian could not keep his shot down. Subsequently, both teams created several half-chances, but the period would end goalless.
Second half: Ujah at the double
The game continued in a similar fashion in the second half, with Eintracht probing and Mainz returning the favour in the form of effective counter-attacks. And it was during one of those breaks that the Zero-Fivers took the lead, Anthony Ujah hitting the net after being set up by Mateta. Four minutes later, the Nigerian increased his team’s advantage, spinning in the box and slamming the ball past Trapp.
In the wake of that double blow, Hütter threw on Haller and Jonathan de Guzman, and then Jovic, da Costa, de Guzman (twice), Kostic and Rebic all had worthwhile efforts on goal. Despite pushing hard until the final whistle, they could not find a way past a solid Mainz rearguard and the visitors pocketed the three points.
Summary: Missed opportunity
Hütter had talked about winning this match “at all costs”, and his players visibly took that to heart in the first half, putting in a lively and determined performance against surprisingly resolute opponents, who were ultimately more clinical in the final third. It was a missed opportunity in the European race for the Eagles, who were nevertheless cheered on tirelessly by the raucous home crowd in the team's final home game of the season.
Trapp – Hinteregger, Falette (Haller 61’), Abraham – Hasebe, Fernandes (de Guzman 61’), Gacinovic, da Costa, Kostic – Rebic, Jovic (Paciencia 77’)
0-1 Ujah (53’)
0-2 Ujah (57’)