Eintracht Frankfurt were forced to battle hard and twice came from behind in Mannheim, where a second-half Ante Rebic hat-trick helped them defeat SV Waldhof and secure their place in the second round of the DFB Cup.

In an entertaining and exhilarating duel at a packed Carl-Benz-Stadion on Sunday, the Eagles showed great steel to fight back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to eliminate their third-division opponents and avoid a first-round cup upset.

Personnel: Three changes

Adi Hütter had suggested in his pre-match press conference that Rebic might “find himself in the starting line-up”, and the Croatian did just that, after impressing in a cameo appearance against FC Vaduz in the UEFA Europa League. There was also a switch in goal, with Kevin Trapp being brought back in just four days after re-signing for the club on a permanent basis, and up front, where Dejan Joveljic got a chance to show what he could do as a starter. Consequently, Felix Wiedwald, Mijat Gacinovic and Goncalo Paciencia all dropped to the bench. Those three changes aside, the Eintracht coach kept faith with the same line-up that put FC Vaduz to the sword on Thursday.

First half: Breathless action

The teams had not met in a competitive fixture in Mannheim since 2002, and Waldhof seemed intent on making sure the Eagles remembered this particular visit, catching the away defence cold with two speedy counter-attacks within the opening quarter of an hour, Valmir Sulejmani scoring on both occasions to give his team a shock 2-0 lead.

Subsequently, Eintracht gradually took control of the game, and they got a lifeline in the 21st minute, when Daichi Kamada found himself unmarked in the box and finished coolly on the half-volley. Joveljic came close to making it 2-2 with a header, but three minutes later, in first-half stoppage time, Filip Kostic’s low drive levelled things at 2-2.

Second half: Rebic steps up

The game followed a similar pattern in the second period, with Eintracht probing and the 3. Liga club returning the favour in the form of effective counters. Joveljic, Dominik Kohr, Martin Hinteregger and substitute Paciencia all had a variety of goal-bound efforts saved by Waldhof goalkeeper Markus Scholz, who was putting in one of the performances of the season.

Then, very much against the run of play, Waldhof went ahead again, Jan-Hendrik Marx firing home powerfully. Eintracht’s heads refused to bow, however, and the game was soon all-square once more as Rebic slotted into the net from close range. Six minutes later, the clinical Croatian struck again, putting SGE into the lead for the first time. Just as it seemed like the action was done for the day, Rebic left the best for last, dancing around Scholz and rolling the ball into the empty net to seal his hat-trick and his team’s comeback win.

Summary: Show of character

Eintracht were on the wrong end of an upset at this stage of the competition last year, and in the early stages of Sunday’s match a repeat of that undesirable outcome looked possible at the Carl-Benz-Stadion. But the Eagles showed their mettle by digging deep to come back not once but twice, thanks in no small part to a purposeful scoring performance from Rebic, and they will be pleased – and a little bit relieved – to have clinched their spot in the next round.

SGE line-up

Trapp - Abraham, Hasebe, Hinteregger - Kohr, Fernandes (Gacinovic 75’) - da Costa (Durm 46’), Kostic - Kamada, Rebic – Joveljic (Paciencia 58’)


1-0 Sulejmani (3')
2-0 Sulejmani (11')
2-1 Kamada (21')
2-2 Kostic (45')
3-2 Marx (72')
3-3 Rebic (76')
3-4 Rebic (82')
3-5 Rebic (88')