Jovic fires Eintracht into quarter-finals
Eintracht Frankfurt are in a European quarter-final for the first time in nearly 25 years after Luka Jovic’s goal earned them a 1-0 victory away to Inter Milan in the UEFA Europa League last-16 second leg on Thursday.
Despite the Italian side having more possession, they rarely threatened and it was the Eagles who were the more dangerous team throughout the match. They could have even won by a far bigger margin, but Jovic’s early goal proved to be enough as Eintracht became the first German club to win eight matches in a Europa League campaign.
Personnel: Willems replaces Fernandes
There were four changes to the starting line-up from Monday’s win over Fortuna Düsseldorf as assistant coach Christian Peintinger took charge of the side in the absence of suspended head coach Adi Hütter. Evan Ndicka, Mijat Gacinovic and Sébastien Haller were all recalled, while Jetro Willems started in midfield with Gelson Fernandes serving a ban.
First half: Early goal puts Eagles in driving seat
Roared on by approximately 15,000 travelling fans, Eintracht came out of the blocks quickly and had a great chance to take the lead in the third minute when Filip Kostic’s shot was parried by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, but Haller could only hit the bar on the rebound. However, they soon had the all-important first goal when Jovic beat his man to a long ball over the top and exquisitely lifted it over Handanovic to score his seventh goal in the competition. The hosts subsequently tried to carve out an equaliser but barely troubled Kevin Trapp, while the Eagles looked a threat whenever they got forward. They even had a couple of opportunities to extend their lead, Haller having a goal ruled out for offside and Gacinovic being denied one-on-one by Handanovic.
Second half: Eintracht stand firm
The second period continued in a similar vein, with Inter pushing for an equaliser but struggling to create anything against the resolute Eagles rearguard. In fact, it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score, with Kostic, Haller and Jovic all testing Handanovic. The closest the hosts came to levelling matters was when Milan Skriniar’s shot was deflected just wide by Makoto Hasebe. In the end, though, Eintracht saw the game out relatively comfortably and celebrated another magnificent European triumph with their travelling army.
Summary: Deserved winners
The Eagles did exactly what they needed to do in Milan, getting an early goal and then frustrating Inter with a superb defensive performance. In fact, they could have won by more on the night after squandering several opportunities, but they will not care about that. Eintracht are left as the only German side in the quarter-finals of this season’s European competitions, and will be eagerly awaiting Friday’s draw in Nyon.
Trapp – Hasebe, Hinteregger, Ndicka – Da Costa, Rode (Paciencia 89’), Willems (Stendera 72’), Kostic – Gacinovic (de Guzman 59’) – Haller, Jovic
0-1 Jovic (6’)