Eintracht Frankfurt secured their passage to the UEFA Europa League (UEL) semi-finals, after a whirlwind 3-2 second-leg victory (4-3 on aggregate) saw them eliminate Barcelona in their first-ever competitive contest at the Camp Nou, and also end their opponents’ 15-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
Dreaming of recreating the club’s famous 1979/80 UEFA Cup-winning run, Frankfurt’s spirits were high in the opening minutes, as they attempted to put their profligacy of the first leg draw behind them. On a pleasant night in Catalonia, their early pressure paid instant dividends, as Eric García’s clumsy challenge saw referee Artur Soares Dias award a penalty within four minutes, making it the fourth the Catalans had conceded in their last two games. Serbian Filip Kostić made no mistake from the spot, sending the thousands of travelling fans into dreamland.
Barcelona’s response was strong though, and while the visitors’ defence remained composed, they were sent a warning sign when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nodded narrowly over the bar. The Camp Nou was then stunned into silence, as Rafael Santos Borré smashed a remarkable effort into the roof of the net from 25 yards to make it a resounding 2-0 in favour of the rank underdogs. The hosts were visibly shaken, and further chances arrived for a rampant Frankfurt, who fully deserved their lead as the HT whistle sounded.
Wonderkid Pedri was pulled off at the break by an unimpressed Xavi, and Barcelona came out looking like a team who had received the hairdryer treatment, with Aubameyang just centimetres away from tapping home Ousmane Dembélé’s wicked cross across the box shortly after the restart. A brilliant, end-to-end contest ensued, and Aubameyang saw another opportunity go begging, as Kevin Trapp smothered his effort when the forward looked destined to score. Seconds later, Jesper Lindstrøm’s exquisite touch saw him sprint into space inside the hosts’ box, before his sweetly-struck effort was stopped by Marc-André ter Stegen.
Not deterred, Frankfurt then struck the killer blow through Kostić’s precise finish, as boos rang around the stadium from the home faithful. Sergio Busquets’ rifled finish and a Memphis Depay penalty in the ninth minute of injury-time made it a nervy finish for Frankfurt, but Barcelona were simply outclassed by an incredible away performance from the ‘Eagles’. With this historic result, Frankfurt are now unbeaten in their previous ten games against Spanish sides, and still in possession of a 100% progression rate against Spanish clubs in two-legged affairs.