Ferran Torres struck a crucial equaliser to cancel out Ansgar Knauff’s wonder-goal as Barcelona salvaged a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. The German outfit will head to the Camp Nou with confidence aplenty, having never lost a two-legged tie against Spanish opposition.
The ‘Eagles’ could’ve sold out Deutsche Bank Park five times over for this huge clash against a juggernaut of European football. Barcelona had lost each of their last three matches against German opposition, albeit all at the hands of Bayern Munich, so they had a record to straighten in front of a raucous crowd. Ferran Torres nearly silenced them inside three minutes, as his rasping shot from distance was destined for the top corner before Kevin Trapp’s stunning save denied the Spaniard.
That early scare shocked Oliver Glasner’s men into life and the Austrian manager would’ve been dumbfounded as to how his side didn’t take the lead just moments later. Jesper Lindstrøm’s cut-back perfectly picked out Djibril Sow who had found space inside the box, but the midfielder failed to hit the target, much to the relief of Marc-André Ter Stegen. Frankfurt thought they’d won a penalty shortly before the interval after Sergio Busquets’ challenge on Rafael Santos Borré, but the decision was overturned by VAR as the veteran midfielder had clearly won the ball.
Xavi would’ve been keen to see an improvement from his side after the interval but his hopes were dashed inside the opening two minutes of the half. Barça failed to adequately clear a corner and the ball dropped to Borussia Dortmund loanee Knauff on the edge of the box, and the German was allowed enough time to control, before unleashing a glorious outside-of-the-boot volley into the top corner.
The Catalan giants turned to their bench as they looked for an equaliser as Xavi introduced Ousmane Dembélé and Frenkie De Jong, and within four minutes his decision was vindicated. The pair linked up with Ferran Torres in exquisite fashion to unpick the Frankfurt defence before Torres finished beyond Trapp with aplomb.
Any chance of Frankfurt re-establishing their lead looked to be over when Tuta received his marching orders, dismissed after receiving a second yellow card for a late challenge on Pedri. The extra-man advantage did little to inspire a Barcelona onslaught though, and while they head into the second leg as favourites after extending their unbeaten streak to 14, they may rue the missed opportunity in the closing stages.