FEATURE | Turning point for Oliver Glasner as Eintracht Frankfurt top Europa League group

Matthew Marshall, Deutsche Bank Park – Eintracht Frankfurt produced their best performance of the season in a 3-1 win against Olympiacos. The victory at the Waldstadion takes the Eagles to the top of Group D in the UEFA Europa League after three matches played.

Rafael Borré won and converted a penalty to open the scoring in the 26th minute with Youssef El-Arabi equalising from the penalty spot four minutes later.

Almamy Touré scored on the stroke of half time to restore Eintracht’s lead, a brutal blow for the Greek club who failed to recover.

Daichi Kamada pounced to extend the lead in the 59th minute, Olympiacos unable to trouble Kevin Trapp for the remainder of the match.

Eagles take control

It was the visitors with the first chance of the match as Youssef El-Arabi fired wide, but it wasn’t long before Eintracht Frankfurt took control of proceedings.

Daichi Kamada headed wide and Rafael Borré headed a Filip Kostic cross over the bar. Borré had another effort minutes later, his header initially beating Tomás Vaclik who recovered before the ball crossed the line.

Eintracht Frankfurt wouldn’t be denied however, and deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute.

A well-executed fast break saw Pape Abou Cissé backtrack and tumble in the box, taking out Borré in the process with the Colombian forward stepping up and slamming the penalty home.

Four minutes later Olympiacos equalised with a spot kick of their own. Kristijan Jakic handled in the box, El-Arabi making no mistake in front of the Frankfurt faithful.

Filip Kostic continued to be the main threat for the hosts, producing a great run and cross that resulted in Almamy Touré volleying wide.

Kostic then started a brilliant move that highlighted his influence, winning the ball on Frankfurt’s goal line before sprinting up field to help his side win a corner.

Decisive moment

The turning point came on the stroke of half time after Martin Hinteregger headed Kostic’s corner onto the bar.

Frankfurt retained possession, Borré releasing Djibril Sow who picked out an unmarked Almamy Touré a yard out.

It was a bitter pill for Olympiakos to swallow, and they were incapable of recovering after the break.

Eintracht continued to control the game and hammered the final nail in the coffin in the 59th minute.

Gonçalo Paciência’s shot from distance was spilled by Vaclik, allowing Kamada to race in, steal the ball and finish into an empty net.

Substitutions futile

Pedro Martins tried everything to turn the tide, but the introductions of Henry Onyekuru, Tiquinho Soares, Rony Lopes and Thanasis Androutsos failed to have the desired outcome.

The Eagles held the Greek club at bay for the remainder of the match, cruising to the finish line in a composed and professional performance.

Turning point for Glasner?

Oliver Glasner had a rough start in Frankfurt, unable to win in his opening eight matches in charge including a first-round exit to Waldhof Mannheim in the DFB-Pokal.

His first win came in a 1-0 victory at Antwerp in the Europa League thanks to Gonçalo Paciência’s added time penalty.

Eintracht followed up with a fortunate 2-1 win at Bayern Munich, the Eagles outplayed and relying on a man of the match performance from Kevin Trapp who made a string of outstanding saves.

Any positive momentum gained from beating the Bavarians was shattered after a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Hertha Berlin.

The feel-good factor returned to Frankfurt in a big way with the win against Olympiacos. The Greek champions had not lost in regulation time in their previous 14 competitive matches, highlighting just how difficult they are to beat.

Glasner was understandably pleased with the victory: “We were well organised and played with a lot of flexibility without losing our shape. We learned our lesson after the game against Hertha. We were much more composed in possession and were all much more disciplined.”

This could be a turning point for Oliver Glasner. A win at Bochum on Sunday will make it four wins in their last five games.

Winning formula?

It can be problematic for a new manager to decide on his first choice starting side and formation, even more so when a large number of players join the club in the off-season.

Glasner has had to deal with the arrivals of Christopher Lenz, Kristijan Jakic, Jesper Lindström, Jens Petter Hauge, Rafael Borré and Sam Lammers alongside Danny da Costa and Gonçalo Paciência who returned from being loaned out.

He started the season with a back three and switched to a back four before reverting to a back three. What we saw against Olympiacos resembled Adi Hütter’s side that reached the 2018/19 Europa League semi-finals.

It’s no coincidence that the performance against Olympiacos came in Gonçalo Paciência’s first start of the season. The Portuguese striker combined well with Daichi Kamada and Rafael Borré, a trio that could continue to improve.

They are a long way from recreating the devastation inflicted on opposition defences by Ante Rebić, Luka Jović and Sébastien Haller, but there is every chance it could be a significant section of a winning formula.

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