Eintracht Frankfurt have pulled off a major upset, opening their Europa League campaign with a win in Marseille. The Bundesliga side pulled off the win despite being down to 10 men for the last half an hour.
Olympique Marseille 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
(Ocampos 3' – Torro 52', Jovic 89')
Going into their opening match of their first Europa League campaign in years, Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter and his men probably would have been satisfied with a draw. However, playing in front of an all but empty stadium on the Cote d'Azur, the 10 men of Frankfurt scored late to snatch all three points.
Under normal circumstances, the stadium in Marseille would have been a cauldron of emotion, with the home supporters very much in the majority. After UEFA's decision to order that this match would be played in an empty stadium was announced, some speculated that the absence of that atmosphere might play into the Eagles' favor.
Olympique strike early
If this did bring Frankfurt a slight advantage, it wasn't apparent early on. Just three minutes in and Bouna Sarr released Florian Thauvin down the right side for last year's Europa League finalists – he slotted it into the area and despite a Frankfurt defender being all over him, Lucas Ocampos got the touch he needed on the ball to push it just inside Kevin Trapp's right post.
Frankfurt, though almost struck back immediately with Danny Da Costa getting down the right flank and playing a cross into the box that looked destined to produce the equalizer, but two Eagles failed to get a touch.
This remained Frankfurt's best chance of the first half of a strange game for television viewers, as – in the absence of everybody but the players, officials and team delegations – you could hear every touch on the ball, every shout – be it in German or French.
Olympique repeatedly threatened to double their lead, with Dimitri Payet a constant threat. Trapp, the returnee from a couple of years in the French capital, made a few good saves to keep Marseille's tally at one.
For the second half, Eintracht coach Adi Hütter brought on forward Nicolai Müller for Mijat Gacinovic and the Eagles improved.
Frankfurt score and see red
In the 52nd minute, Frankfurt were awarded a corner and Lucas Torro made a perfect run into the box to head the ball home.
However, just as things were looking up for the Bundesliga side, Jetro Willems made an error in judgement. Having drawn a yellow card early in the first half, the Dutch left back committed an unnecessary foul to see red and leave Frankfurt with 10 men for the last half hour.
Hütter reacted by taking off midfielder Jonathan De Guzman for defender Simon Fallette, changing his formation to a 5-3-1 in the hope of securing the point.
Unsurprisingly Marseille pushed to capitalize on their man advantage, creating a couple of chances in the ensuing minutes. Late in the game, the home side had three shouts for a penalty, none of which were given, and Frankfurt were fortunate the referee didn't point to the spot at least once.
A late winner
Just when it looked like Frankfurt would happily go home with the single point, substitute Luka Jovic took the Eagles' last chance of the match, hammering home the winner in the final minute of the 90.
While there will be celebrations in Germany's banking capital, more than a few Eagles' supporters will be wondering how great it would have been to have been there, if it hadn't been for that UEFA ruling.