Eintracht Frankfurt are into the final of the DFB-Pokal. The Eagles held out to beat fellow Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart 3-2 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena and book their place in Berlin to face RB Leipzig for the golden trophy.
Despite their precarious situation in the league, Stuttgart looked confident in the opening stages, working the ball around well and avoiding Frankfurt’s pressing – when they were physically able to at least: both Mario Götze (4’) and Djibril Sow (5’) were shown early yellow cards for late challenges. The first shot of the match came from VfB and Tiago Tomas, whose effort from range in the eighth minute was dealt with by the goalkeeper.
Possession was distributed fairly evenly in the first quarter of an hour, although it was the hosts who were stronger in the challenges, winning a lot of balls in midfield. Frankfurt were looking for opportunities to counter with their pace, but never really worked a clear opening.
Then all of a sudden, Stuttgart struck. A brilliant ball down the line from Waldemar Anton sent Josha Vagnoman into space and he picked up his head to find Tiago Tomas in the box. His first touch brought the ball to a stop, before a drilled shot sent a speculating Kevin Trapp the wrong way and smashed in off the near post to make it 1-0 (19’).
After the initial shock, Eintracht quickly dusted themselves down and set about delivering a response. Randal Kolo Muani’s low cross from the touchline to Sebastian Rode deserved a better finish than the German’s high and not very handsome effort (32’).
Oliver Glasner’s side upped the pressure and worked a couple of decent chances before the break. Christopher Lenz’s first-time strike was blocked away for a corner (39’), while Daichi Kamada’s volley from a central position forced a good save from Fabian Bredlow (44’).
Frankfurt were quick out of the blocks after the change of ends. Kamada’s shot from a promising position lacked accuracy and power (46’), but Evan Ndicka’s just five minutes later had both: a cross from Lenz was cleverly laid off by Kolo Muani at the back post and the defender applied a thunderous left-footed finish from twelve yards to leave Bredlow with no chance (51’).
It wasn’t long until the turnaround was complete. Kamada was afforded too much room on the edge of the box and this time he was able to pick out the bottom corner to put Frankfurt into a 2-1 lead (55’). The Eagles were in control now, and a breakaway following a VfB corner led to Kolo Muani being fouled in the box by Bredlow, before sticking the resulting penalty away himself (77’).
Stuttgart refused to give up and substitute Enzo Millot’s neat one-two 20 yards out opened up space for him to shoot. A slight deflection off Makoto Hasebe made it unstoppable for Kevin Trapp, and VfB were back within a goal (83’). Despite having Borna Sosa sent off for a second yellow card in the 86th minute, the home side pushed until the dying seconds, but there was to be no late equaliser.###more###