Once again, there were mixed fortunes for the Bundesliga sides involved this evening in the Europa League. Freiburg welcomed Portuguese visitors GD Estoril Praia while Eintracht Frankfurt hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv. Freiburg are still to record their first win in the competition and Estoril at home is their best chance of gaining it while a victory for Frankfurt would put plenty of space between them at the top and the second-placed team.
SC Freiburg 1 GD Estoril Praia 1
Vladimir Darida’s debut for Freiburg couldn’t have been a better one from a personal point of view but it was a huge disappointment collectively, as the Bundesliga side could only manage a draw against Estoril, the weakest team in the group on paper. Christian Streich also gave a debut to young midfielder Nicolai Lorenzoni, who has been playing for their U23 side in the Regionalliga this season.
With both teams still winless in the competition and with Estoril having lost both of the previous matches, this was Freiburg’s best opportunity to get their first win in the Europa League this season. It started well enough as, after just 11 minutes, Jonathan Schmid chased a long ball into the area and laid it off to Darida, whose shot from a tight angle was deflected off Estoril defender Yohan Tavares and wrong footed Vagner in the visitor’s goal to put the Germans ahead. Darida, Freiburg’s record transfer, arrived in the summer from Viktoria Plzeň for 4m€ but a foot injury had prevented him of making his debut until tonight. Freiburg were the better side but Estoril’s compact midfield didn’t allow them to create from the middle, so they resorted to attacking on the wings which narrowed down their possibilities and increased predictability.
Estoril were back on level terms less than ten minutes after the restart when Luis Leal threaded Sebá through one-on-one with Oliver Baumann and the Brazilian reached the ball just before Baumann and poked the ball into the goal. It was a bitter blow for Freiburg as they hadn’t capitalised their slight dominance. Streich brought on Mike Hanke and Václav Pilař in the latter stages of the match but the draw stood and Freiburg sees their hopes for qualifying for the next round get slimmer and slimmer. Sevilla’s late equaliser at Slovan Liberec is a slight lifeline for Streich’s men but defeat in the Czech Republic would leave Freiburg all but out of the competition.
Other Group H score:
Slovan Liberec 1 Sevilla CF 1
Eintracht Frankfurt 2 Maccabi Tel Aviv 0
Three out of three. Eintracht Frankfurt are counting their matches in this season’s Europa League as victories and clean sheets, as they beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 at the Commerzbank-Arena. Goals by Václav Kadlec and Alexander Meier were enough to seal the victory.
It was a relatively easy victory for Eintracht as they faced a defensive Maccabi team who only got a single shot on target and another one wide in comparison to Eintracht’s 20. The home side took the lead after just 12 minutes when Meier’s header was pushed onto the post by Maccabi keeper Juan Pablo and Kadlec was first onto the rebound to tap it in to open the score. They were given a helping hand by Maccabi themselves when Tal Ben Haim (not to be confused with the former Bolton and Chelsea defender) earned himself two yellow cards in the space of four minutes.
Frankfurt continued to press at either side of half-time and their reward came in the 53rd minute, when Meier got his deserved goal after a glancing header from a Tranquillo Barnetta cross found the back of the net. It was the goal that confirmed Eintracht’s domination and Maccabi manager Paulo Sousa showed no sign of going for the match, instead still defending deep and inviting the home side to score their third. Kadlec on a couple of occasions and Aigner both saw their efforts neutralised by the Maccabi defence and Juan Pablo. All in all, though, a valuable and relatively easy victory for Eintracht who are well on course to reaching the next round and could mathematically do it if they beat Maccabi in Israel in the next match the following month.
Other Group F score:
Girondins Bordeaux 2 APOEL Nicosia 1