Fortuna Düsseldorf left it late to salvage a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2. Bundesliga’s top of the table clash. A draw was enough for Düsseldorf to return to the top of the standings after a controversial last minute penalty denied the visitors the win and opportunity to go top themselves. Benjamin Köhler brought Frankfurt ahead on 69 minutes before a late push from Düsseldorf resulted in a penalty that captain Jens Langeneke converted. The occasion was heated further by pre-match comments made by Frankfurt coach Armin Veh criticizing Düsseldorf’s questionable antics and calls this season. Suffice to say, first place in the standings was not the only motivator in this clash.
Line ups and Tactics
Fortuna coach Norbert Meier took Veh’s comments in stride and wanted to focus only on the match. He made two changes to the line up that drew with Ingolstadt last week, the suspended Lambertz and sick van den Bergh were replaced by winter loan signing Matuschyk in the center of the pitch and Dum at left back. Meier lined up with his usual 4-4-2, Rösler being the striker who dropped deep. Veh kept the same team that beat Braunschweit 2-1 last week, only having to adapt to the absence of winter transfer Amedick due to an injury. In his place stood Brazilian center back Anderson. He continued with his preferred 4-2-3-1 with the impressive Meier playing in the hole.
First Half to forget
Perhaps influenced by the occasion, both sides were relatively cautious in the first 45 minutes. Their encounter in the Hinrunde started in a similar fashion with both sides eventually negating each others strong points. With Düsseldorf playing with more traditional wide players their biggest threats often came in wide areas, particularly through the play of the talented young Beister and Fink. They therefore saw more of the ball in the opening stages but being that they focused much of their play out wide Frankfurt were stronger in the middle and gradually came into the match.
As has been the case often this season, Meier was Frankfurt’s biggest danger man and he also had the first real chance of the match, sending a shot straight into the arms of Düsseldorf goalkeeper Ratajczak from 16 meters out. The game was stagnant for the next half hour with both back lines extremely disciplined and helped by a lack of creativity by both sets of attacks. Neither side seemed to want to take a risk big enough to give a goal away at the other end. It took until the 33rd minute for the next chance to come along after Lehmann whipped in a dangerous cross from the left, Matmour and Meier a hair’s length away from putting the ball on target. Propelled by Frankfurt’s intrepidness, Düsseldorf turned up a gear as well and Rösler and Beister both tested Nikolov but to no avail. It remained goalless at the break but there were hints of bigger things to come in the second half.
Sparks fly in the second half
With the league lead on the line, both sides turned it up after the restart. No changes were made by either coaches and things heated up quickly. Köhler sent in another dangerous cross on 49 minutes but Matmour failed to control the direction his header. Another easy save for Ratajczak but things would escalate. Not fazed in the slightest, Düsseldorf hit right back with a flurry of chances ten minutes later. Rösler and Beister got into good positions but were only able to muster up what could best be dscribed as half chances in a span of four minutes. Matuschyk would truly test Nikolov though on 65 minutes with a dangerous half volley but the veteran goalkeeper was up to the challenge. Beister again came close three minutes later but it wasn’t enough.
Düsseldorf were then dumbfounded because Frankfurt took the lead against the run of play. Meier was again at the heart of the action after his clever pass beat several Düsseldorf defenders and found its way to the feet of Köhler who did not hesitate and tucked the ball in the back of the net. The deadlock was broken despite Düsseldorf’s pressure. Angered and out to prove a point, Düsseldorf stepped up their aggression further and Meier brought on another attacker in Ilsö. Immediately after the home side came close after Bröker direct a shot under Schildenfeld’s legs, hitting the post. The following corner saw a goal line clearance from Rode after a Fink header. Düsseldorf were getting closer and closer but luck was not on their side.
Meier put all his cards on the table in the last ten minutes and sent on two more attacking players in Jovanovic and Furuholm. They were know playing with essentially four strikers. The changes nearly paid off after Furuholm came close four minutes from time but Nikolov was there once again. The game seemed destined to end 1-0 until a hopeful ball was launched into Frankfurt’s box in the last minute and referee Felix Brych called a foul on Beister by Anderson. A penalty was rewarded despite minute long protests from the Frankfurt players and Langeneke converted to the relief of the 40,000 spectators. Emotions remained high after the goal and Rösler saw red and Veh was sent to the locker room.
A draw was a relief for Düsseldorf the way things were going but it won’t ease any criticism regarding the favorable calls they have been getting this season. Langeneke’s penalty was their 11th of the season, a league high, most of which have come under suspicious circumstances. Next up for for Düsseldorf is a trip to 1860 whom they beat 3-1 earlier this season.
Frankfurt will feel hard done by after defending well for most of the match. Despite the draw, they remain the best away team in the league with 21 points from 11 matches on the road. Next week they will host FSV Frankfurt in the local derby. In the Hinrunde this encounter resulted in their biggest win of the season. (4-0)
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