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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Eintracht Frankfurt dump Barcelona out of Europa League

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UEFA Europa League favourites Barcelona were dumped out of the competition on Thursday as Bundesliga outfit, Eintracht Frankfurt, pulled off a 3-2 victory at Camp Nou to progress to the semi-finals.

After the first leg finished 1-1 in Germany last week, Barcelona were strong favourites to win at home against Eintracht Frankfurt who are ninth in the Bundesliga table.

But Frankfurt, inspired by incredible travelling support of around 20,000 fans, outplayed the Catalans, Filip Kostic scoring twice, the first an early penalty, either side of a stunning long-range strike by Rafael Santos Borre.

Read Also: Barcelona outclass Napoli to reach Europa League last 16

Sergio Busquets pulled one back for Barcelona in the 91st minute and then Memphis Depay scored a penalty in the 11th minute of injury time as the hosts attempted a late comeback.

But it was too little too late as Frankfurt sealed a momentous 4-3 aggregate win.

“We’ll go there and beat them,” Frankfurt’s sporting director Markus Kroesche had said on Wednesday but few believed it possible, not least because of Barcelona’s brilliant recent run of form under Xavi Hernandez.

They were undefeated since December in all competitions and have surged up to second in LaLiga after thrashing Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu less than a month ago.

While that run means Barcelona should no longer need the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League next season, this was a great chance for Xavi to add a trophy to what has been an impressive first few months as a coach.

Instead, Frankfurt go through to the last four and the German club will now be eyeing a first European triumph since they won the UEFA Cup in 1980.

Frankfurt exploded out of the blocks and Barca gave them a head start, Eric Garcia pulling down Jesper Lindstroem under a high ball in the box and Kostic driving in the penalty after three minutes played.

Barcelona went close to an equaliser as Ronald Araujo’s volley was palmed away before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed Ousmane Dembele’s cross just over.

Eintracht Frankfurt will face West Ham in the semi-final after the Premier League side cruised past Lyon.

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