European Cup: Freiburg steals a point from the cauldron in Lens – Eintracht Frankfurt gambles away victory despite having the majority

Despite poor utilization of opportunities, SC Freiburg still has every chance of reaching the round of 16 of the Europa League.

European Cup: Freiburg steals a point from the cauldron in Lens – Eintracht Frankfurt gambles away victory despite having the majority

Despite poor utilization of opportunities, SC Freiburg still has every chance of reaching the round of 16 of the Europa League. With the goalless draw in the first leg of the playoff against French first division club RC Lens, the Breisgauer team could have created an even better starting position on Thursday evening. The shortcoming was the lack of efficiency. With a win in the second leg in front of home fans a week ago, coach Christian Streich's team will advance to the next round.

Roland Sallai's best opportunity for the Bundesliga club hit the crossbar (19th minute). After the break, the sports club was lucky that Massadio Haidara's supposed goal was not recognized because it was offside (70'). After the 3-0 defeat at German runner-up Borussia Dortmund, coach Streich should still be satisfied that his players met the "absolute increase in performance" he had demanded in advance.

Especially on the offensive, Streich's team struggled with the setbacks at Werder Bremen (1:3), at home against VfB Stuttgart (1:3) and recently at BVB. They hadn't managed to score a goal in these duels.

But at the sixth place in Ligue 1, the sports club showed a different face: wide awake in the duels and structured in the transition game. Ritsu Doan, who was in the starting line-up for the first time since returning from the Asian Championship, was denied by Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba (14th) and just five minutes later the crossbar was in Sallai's way.

Streich had to improvise due to injury problems - among other things, the two regular central defenders Philipp Lienhart and Matthias Ginter were not available - he ordered the trained midfielder Yannik Keitel into the center of the defensive three-man chain, who did a calm job there.

The hosts, who competed with three wins under their belt, have presented themselves significantly stronger than Freiburg in the past few weeks. However, they hardly found any gaps over long stretches. Freiburg's goalkeeper Noah Atubolu was not tested at all in the first half.

Even after the break, Freiburg initially had better opportunities: Sallai was unable to convert a Doan cross (49'), and Merlin Röhl, who was suspended in the league, made the wrong decision on a counterattack opportunity (54'). Maximilian Eggestein was even closer. However, the substitute captain failed to get the ball past Samba from three meters away (59).

In the final phase, the home team increased the pace again and were almost rewarded for it. However, crosser Przemysław Frankowski was offside when Haidara's header hit.

After a lightning start, Eintracht Frankfurt carelessly lost a better starting position in the fight for a place in the round of 16 of the Conference League. The Bundesliga club only managed a 2-2 (2-1) draw in the first leg of the playoff against top Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise on Thursday despite an early two-goal lead and faces a tricky task in the second leg in a week's time.

Farès Chaibi in the 3rd minute and Sasa Kalajdzic (10th) made Eintracht celebrate twice in the opening phase, but Mathias Rasmussen (31st) and Gustaf Nilsson (68th) tore the Hessians, who were weak in the second half, out of their dreams of victory. After a yellow-red card for Charles Vanhoutte (78th), the home team ended the game outnumbered.

Eintracht coach Dino Toppmöller declared “fight mode” before the game. However, his protégés only took this instruction to heart in the first half hour, when they dominated the game and were rewarded with two goals. After less than 150 seconds, Chaibi scored from close range after a shot from Kalajdzic had been blocked. Niels Nkounkou had previously prepared exemplary.

And it got even better. Just a few minutes later, Kalajdzic, who was missing from last Saturday's 1-1 draw against VfL Bochum due to the birth of his child, carefully completed a classy counterattack via Omar Marmoush and Chaibi. It was the first goal for the Austrian, who came on loan from English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers in the winter.

With a clear lead behind them, Frankfurt initially controlled the game and skillfully kept the hosts away from their own goal. Only a header from Nilsson, which narrowly missed the target, was initially in danger. The Bundesliga team still had the better chances. Chaibi failed with a long-range shot past former Eintracht goalkeeper Heinz Lindner, and a little later Kalajdzic missed from a promising position.

But then Ellyes Skhiri blacked out and brought the Belgians back into the game. Rasmussen took advantage of a serious mistake by the Frankfurt defensive player, who missed the ball in his own penalty area, to connect. The goal had an impact on the guests, who were no longer so dominant and were increasingly having problems defensively.

This continued after the change. Saint-Gilloise created a few chances against a heavily weakening Hessian team. Nilsson missed twice, first heading the ball well over the goal from five meters and a short time later his shot from eleven meters was missed by Trapp.

However, the Swede, who used to play for SV Wehen Wiesbaden in the 3rd league, did better in the third attempt. After a pass to the front, the striker maneuvered the ball past the rushing Trapp into the net and rewarded the hosts for their tireless effort.

Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was first published.