Eintracht Frankfurt have strenghtened their Europa League credentials with a 2-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv that leaves them atop Group F. Freiburg drew 1-1 with Portuguese opponents Estoril in Group H.
Eintracht Frankfurt enjoyed true dominance over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, even before the Israeli side went down to ten men.
The Germans' first goal came in the 13th minute as Alexander Meier took a long-range shot that hit the post. With the Tel-Aviv defense in disarray, the ball was pounced on and fired home by Czech Vaclav Kadlec.
Although Tel-Aviv had forward Tal Ben Haim sent off after 34 minutes for a second yellow card, they defended stoutly and Frankfurt found it difficult to fully press their advantage.
After the break, Frankfurt continued to pile on the pressure and got their second in the 53rd minute, as Meier headed home from a Tranquillo Barnetta corner.
While Frankfurt remained clearly stronger in all sections of the pitch, Tel-Aviv were successful in frustrating their ambitions. And the Israelis poured forward regularly with counterattacks.
Despite the one-man advantage, and the proverbial 12th man provided by the boisterous Frankfurt crowd, a further breakthrough proved too elusive. It would be unfair to say the result flattered a bold Tel-Aviv side, although keeper Juan Pablo was in large part responsible for keeping the score line at 2-0.
For Frankfurt coach Armin Veh, it was a pleasing result, nonetheless. "We worked for a whole year to experience European competition," he said. "It's something we take very seriously and we want to go further."
Frankfurt now top Group F on six points, two above second-place Tel-Aviv.
Promising start for Freiburg
There were plenty of chances in a frenetic first ten minutes for Freiburg, as Estoril struggled to establish a foothold.
For a brief moment, however, it looked as though the Portuguese might shock the home side, winning a corner in the tenth minute in their first real spell of pressure.
But only a minute late, Freiburg put some distance between themselves and the visitors.
Frenchman Jonathan Schmid picked up on long ball and beat the offside trap to arrive at the byline. The midfielder then cut it back for Czech Vladimir Darida to put away, partly deflected.
After that, Freiburg kept probing, but the game lost tempo as the half wore to an end, something that proved to be to Estoril's advantage. Despite that, the Portuguese posed little threat.
After the break, Freiburg looked to retake the initiative but faced increasingly organized opposition to their attacks. As one offensive broke down, the German club was caught out and Estoril's Luis Leal was able to thread the ball to the Brazilian Seba, who beat the offside trap on 53 minutes.
He calmly finished, poking the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Oliver Baumann.
As the game wore to an end, both sides looked more eager to hang on to a point. Although Freiburg's Admir Mehmedi posed problems at the back for Estoril, the visitors defended successfully until the end.
Freiburg coach Christian Streich admitted that his team has squandered chances. "We have to accept that we didn’t win, even if we deserved to," he said. "We tried everything and we gave everything but we weren’t cool enough to make the most of two or three chances in front of goal."
Freiburg languish in third place in Group H on two points, just one above Estoril and three behind second-place Liberec. Seville is now top of the group on seven points.