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Sports

Freiburg keep Europa League campaign alive while Frankfurt progress

Freiburg have kept their Europa League hopes alive with a 2-1 away win over Slovan Liberec. Eintracht Frankfurt, meanwhile, secured qualification into next round with a narrow win away to Bordeaux.

Thursday evening's encounter was a must-win match for Freiburg. Trailing three points behind their Czech opponents in the Group H table, a loss would have booted the southwestern side out of the Europa League and guaranteed a spot in the last 32 for Liberec.

The last match between the two teams was hardly inspiring for Freiburg, who relinquished a 2-0 lead at home and were forced to settle for one point. Making matters worse, Freiburg had yet to score a single goal away from home in the competition heading into Thursday's match.

Coach Christian Streich made five changes to the side that beat fellow Bundesliga relegation battle opponents Eintracht Braunschweig 1-0 at the weekend, including inserting youngsters Sebastian Kerk and Nicolai Lorenzoni into midfield.

Freiburg got their long-sought goal in the 23rd minute through Matthias Ginter. Liberec goalkeeper Premysl Kovar left his line to collect a corner, but could only manage to tip it right to the feet of Ginter. The teenager lobbed a shot over Kovar and into the back of the net to score Freiburg's first away goal of their Europa League campaign.

The opening period of the second half saw Liberec take firm control of the match. Good chances fell David Pavelka and Michael Rabusic, who saw his close-range effort bounce off the side post just before the hour mark.

In the 73rd minute, the visitors doubled their lead through on-loan midfielder Francis Coquelin. An impressive run from Christian Günter to set up the goal was the most impressive moment of the play. The 20-year-old defender beat several Liberec defenders before barreling down the left flank and sending in a cross. Coquelin leapt over the back of his defender and headed into the net to make it 2-0.

Just eight minutes later, Liberec pulled one back through Serhiy Rybalka, who was left unmarked on a cross into the six yard box. The goal immediately ignited fears of another Freiburg collapse, and another comeback from 2-0 down for Liberec.

But this time Freiburg managed to hold onto their lead for the final ten minutes, and the match finished 2-1. The victory puts Streich's team even with Liberec in the group with 6 points, behind leaders Sevilla. The only dark mark on the evening for Freiburg will be the late substitution of Ginter, who had to leave the match with an injury.

Frankfurt into the next round

Eintracht Frankfurt's players celebrate in front of their supporters after Martin Lanig scored against Girondins Bordeaux during their Europa League soccer match at the Chaban-Delmas stadium in Bordeaux November 28 , 2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Lanig gave Frankfurt's immense traveling support reason to celebrate

In the evening's late match involving a Bundesliga side, Eintracht Frankfurt continued their strong European form and booked a spot in the knockout stage with a 1-0 win away to Bordeaux. The French side created far more chances, but their German opposition made the most of their opportunities.

Perhaps the most impressive part of match was evident before the first whistle. A reported 12,000 Frankfurt fans made the trip to the southwest of France. For the entire 90 minutes, the sound in the stadium suggested it was close to the Main River, not the Bay of Biscay.

The hosts drew a string of good saves from Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp on the evening, though neither he or his counterpart Cedric Carrasso were forced into service with any regularity early on.

It was the second half where the drama picked up. The attacking combination of Henri Saivet and Cheick Diabate consistently caused trouble for the Frankfurt defense. The most acrobatic attempt of the evening came from the former, whose bicycle kick from the edge of the box in the 56th minute drew a diving save from Trapp.

Bordeaux managed 21 shots on for the entire match to Frankfurt's six, but it was the Germans who took the lead.

In the 83rd minute, Sebastian Jung laid off to Tranquillo Barnetta on the right flank. The Swiss winger sent a low cross into the box, and Martin Lanig was there to finish from close range. It was the first goal scored by one of coach Armin Veh's substitutes for Frankfurt in more than a year.

The goal changed the momentum of the match, and a high shot from Diabate in stoppage time was the closest Boardeaux came to an equalizer.

It finished 1-0 to the visitors, who keep their spot atop Group F with 12 points, five ahead of second-place Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Frankfurt have now assured qualification into the Round of 32, while defeat for Bordeaux ended their slim hopes of reaching the next phase of the competition.