Manuel Veth –
It was another amazing European night at Frankfurt’s Waldstadion. Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea was a tale of two halves with Frankfurt dominating the first 45 and Chelsea the second interval.
- Waldstadion once again impressive
- Luka Jović strikes first
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek with the Chelsea goal
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea
Goals: 1-0 (Luka Jović, 23’), 1-1 (Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 42’)
It was another aggressive start by Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles physically pressed the English visitors at a loud and noisy Waldstadion in Frankfurt and in the 18′ minute Luka Jović was just a step late to put home a low Danny da Costa cross.
Chelsea were somewhat sloppy to start the game. The Blues seemingly struggled to keep up with Frankfurt. In the 20′ minute, Andreas Christensen was lucky that he was allowed to stay on the pitch after a horrendous tackle against Sebastian Rode. From that freekick, David Abraham was left wide open in the box but could not direct the shot on target.
Then in the 23′ minute Frankfurt finally scored. Filip Kostić sent a cross in from the left where Jović was waiting and his flying header beat goalkeeper Kepa at the far post.
Two minutes later Chelsea finally had their first chance with Pedro unleashing a shot from outside the box that beat Kevin Trapp but also went just wide of the far post. A Chelsea goal at this point would have been completely run of the play at this stage. Frankfurt were dominant at this stage.
Perhaps it was that missed Pedro chance. But Chelsea finally woke up to Frankfurt’s challenge and took control of the ball in the attacking third. In fact, in the 43′ minute, Chelsea had another big chance to equalise, Ruben Loftus-Cheek stepped in from the right and unleashed a shot from the edge of the box that was just wide of the goal.
Just before halftime, Chelsea got the crucial away goal. The Blues were pressing and in the 45′ Pedro was given to much space to first dance through the defence inside the box and then second beat Trapp with a low drive from 11-yards out.
Chelsea were now the better side, and in the 54′ minute Loftus-Cheek almost had his second. Pedro drove the ball forward spotted Loftus-Cheek’s run, but the midfielder hit the ball over the crossbar. Just six minutes later David Luiz hit the crossbar with a fantastic freekick from 22-yards out.
Frankfurt were now struggling for control. The Eagles were sloppy in transition, giving the ball away too often when going forward. It was, in fact, almost a role reversal from the first half when Chelsea struggled in the opening stage.
In fact, the Eagles were barely given a moment to collect themselves. The Blues at this stage were dominant turning the screws on the Bundesliga side. Eden Hazard in the (75′), David Luiz, (77′) had chances at this stage to score Chelsea’s second.
The goal did not come for Chelsea. Instead with ten minutes to go the Eagles worked themselves back into the game. Gonçalo Paciência, a header from a corner (85′) and then Jović (86′), following a misplay by Kepa, had chances to bring Frankfurt ahead. But neither could find the net, and as a result, the first leg ended in a finely balanced 1-1 draw that sets it up nicely for the second leg to take place at Stamford Bridge in one week.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea – Man of the Match
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the man of the match. The Chelsea youth product was once again brilliant in the Europa League. When Frankfurt were pressing in the first half the midfielder provided a dangerous outlet and then scored the all-important away goal for Chelsea.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea – Talking Point
A tale of two halves. Eintracht Frankfurt had the better start to the game but Chelsea’s goal just before halftime seemed to swing it into the English side’s favour. For Chelsea the big difference in the second half? Eden Hazard. It was an odd decision by Maurizio Sarri to leave the Belgian playmaker out of the starting XI. In the second half with the Belgian on the pitch, Chelsea found the necessary structure to counter Frankfurt’s aggressive counter-pressing.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea – Match Stats
- No player has scored the opening goal in this Europa League season as often as Luka Jović (five).
- Pedro’s seven-goal involvements in the Europa League this season (four goals, three assists) have all come in his last six starts in the competition.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea – Line-ups
Trapp – Falette, Hinteregger, Abraham – Hasebe – Kostić, Rode, G. Fernandes (Paciência, 73′), da Costa – Jović, Gaćinović (Willems, 90′)
Coach: Adi Hütter
Kepa – Emerson, Christensen, David Luiz, Azpilicueta – Loftus-Cheek (Kovačić, 83′), Jorginho, Kanté – Willian (Hazard, 61′), Giroud, Pedro
Coach: Maurizio Sarri
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.