Matthew Marshall, Waldstadion – Eintracht Frankfurt earned a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Europa League quarter-final first leg. It was an emotional evening at the Waldstadion, the first full house for a Europa League match since the start of the pandemic.
Ansgar Knauff put the Eagles ahead with an unstoppable strike into the top corner in the 48th minute. Barcelona worked their way back into the contest, equalising in the 66th minute after a slick manoeuvre saw Ferran Torres find the bottom corner.
Tuta’s ejection in the 78th minute made it a nervy ending, but Eintracht held on to set up an intriguing second leg in Spain.
The first chance fell to Ferran Torres in the 3rd minute, his fierce strike destined for the top corner until Kevin Trapp dived at full stretch to tip the ball over the bar. Any thoughts the visitors had of maintaining the pressure was soon extinguished as Eintracht maintain
Ansgar Knauff’s shot was deflected wide before Djibril Sow missed a glorious chance from close range. Filip Kostic was looking dangerous down the left wing, his cross forcing a crucial clearance from Gavi.
Gerard Piqué picked up an early injury and was replaced by Clément Lenglet.
Barcelona continued to probe for openings but were having problems breaking through a determined defence.
The match took a turn in the 38th minute when referee Srdan Jovanović awarded Eintracht a penalty.
Kostic’s cross was fumbled by Marc-André ter Stegen after a slight touch from Tuta, Sergio Busquets involved in a challenge with Rafael Borré. After checking the touchline monitor, Jovanović reversed the decision as Busquets had narrowly got to the ball first.
Jesper Lindstrøm’s shot was deflected wide on the stroke of half time as Eintracht went into the break full of confidence. Frankfurt were showing enterprise in attack and doing a great job defensively, closing down space and frequently double teaming Barcelona’s attackers.
They were rewarded in the 48th minute after a stunning strike broke the deadlock. Kostic’s corner was cleared outside the area to Knauff, the 20-year-old taking a touch and firing an unstoppable volley into the top corner that gave ter Stegen no chance.
Oliver Glasner’s side almost doubled their advantage minutes later, Kostic’s cross finding Lindstrøm who fired over the bar.
Xavi made two changes in the 61st minute as Gavi and Adama Traoré made way for Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembélé. It proved to be an inspired move with both players involved in the equaliser four minutes later.
It was a great move started by Dembélé, de Jong combining beautifully with Torres who fired through Tuta’s legs into the bottom corner.
The equaliser gave Barcelona plenty of confidence as they started to show their quality and dominate possession. In the 78th minute they were given a helping hand as the hosts were reduced to 10 men.
Tuta has been looking shaky throughout the second half, the Brazilian earning a second yellow card for a late challenge on Pedri.
Daichi Kamada made way for Almamy Touré as Eintracht held on for the final 10 minutes, earning a valuable draw which gives Frankfurt a fighting chance in the second leg at Camp Nou.