Rangers lost their first two games of the Europa League campaign before bouncing back to reach the final. They are the first team in history to do so. On the other hand, Eintracht Frankfurt reached the final on an unbeaten run and were looking to become the first team since Chelsea in 2018-19 and Villarreal in 2020-21 to win the title without losing a game. It would be their first European title since 1980. Their defeat of Barcelona was the stuff of legends. Former Wolfsburg manager Oliver Glasner was looking to become the first Austrian coach to win a European trophy since Ernst Happel in 1983. Giovanni van Bronckhorst will be proud of the fact that he has taken a team stuck in the 4th tier 10 years ago into a European final.
From the early minutes, Filip Kostic established himself as a threat. He threatened with dangerous corners, but they were not converted. Fantasy Premier League god John Lundstram was lucky to escape a card when he kicked Sebastian Rode in the head. The diminutive German midfielder required medical treatment with blood coming out, but he soldiered through. On 12, Daichi Kamada should have gotten his shot away faster before he was crowded out. Djibril Sow’s effort from range was smartly saved by Allan McGregor. The keeper had to be smart again to stop Ansgar Knauff. On 21, Almamy Touré headed over a great chance to open the scoring. The German side had established a foothold with Rangers struggling.
Joe Aribo gave Kevin Trapp something to think about from about 20 yards out before a cooling break. Three minutes later, Kamada blocked Jesper Lindstrom’s effort that looked on target. Kostic made two typical strides forward and they both resulted in shots on target. By now, the Germans had reached double figures for shots. In the 37th minute, Lundstram sent a header towards the goal but Trapp lifted the ball over. Aribo and the mooted Ryan Kent exchanged some passes before a shot, but it was rising. Half time.
Rangers came out more lively in the second half. Ryan Jack had more time than he realized before shooting over early in the half. Lindstrom caused a scare when his shot took a deflection off Calvin Bassey and drifted narrowly wide. On 53, Rafael Borre went down theatrically after little contact from Connor Goldson.
On 57, Aribo opened the scoring. A poor header backward from Djibril Sow put Tuta under pressure, and the Nigerian midfielder, playing false nine, stole in with speed, before composing himself to finish. Eintracht Frankfurt 0-1 Rangers.
Frankfurt took the initiative to break Rangers down. Kamada looped the ball over the keeper and net after being put through on goal in the 67th minute. The Germans scored minutes later.
A basic Kostic cross and Goldson leaves it (for who sir?), and Borre pokes home to equalize the tie. Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Rangers. The Colombian’s fourth of the tournament. Another cooling break.
On 80, Kostic’s freekick bounced dangerously towards McGregor and the 40-year-old took no chances as he lifted it over the post. Just before 90, Borre is sent away down the right, and despite being held up, his cross finds Kostic. The Serbian’s cross-cum-shot threatened to sneak in, but it faltered wide. Extra time.
On 95, Bassey made a mistake that allowed Borre in, but he recovered smartly to force a corner. Knauff was buzzing with energy and driving the ball 30/40 yards forward, but his end-product was seriously wanting. Rangers had two long-range shots, but Trapp saw both and covered well. Kristijan Jakić replied with a swerving long-range shot that was surprisingly close.
On 117, Rangers should have won the tie. Kemar Roofe made a run behind and crossed for # Kent. Somehow Trapp managed to keep Kent out from six yards out. What an incredible save! Steven Davis sent the rebound just over the bar! Penalties.
Only Aaron Ramsey missed his penalty when Trapp stuck out his foot towards the Welshman’s central penalty. Eintracht Frankfurt are now the first team to win a European title not named Bayern Munich since 1997.