Frankfurt returned to the competition they set alight last season, but were taught a lesson in efficiency. Arsenal took their chances, leaving Frankfurt with nothing to show for their efforts.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Arsenal
(Willock 38', Saka 85', Aubameyang 88')
Frankfurt suffered their heaviest ever defeat in a UEFA competition as they paid the price for not capitalizing on their spells of pressure. The scoreline was perhaps a bit harsh on the Bundesliga side, who, for much of the first half, showed more intent.
Emiliano Martinez impressed in goal for Arsenal, making sure Frankfurt's peppering in the opening half an hour did not result in a change to the scoreline. Filip Kostic had the best chance of the first half, but Martinez's strong hand kept it at bay.
That wasn't to say Arsenal didn't have chances - Lucas Torreira missed a glorious chance in the box early on - but they were fewer in number than their hosts. Eventually though, Arsenal broke the deadlock thanks to Joe Willock's deflected strike.
In the second half, Frankfurt's intent remained but they struggled to truly test Martinez. Dominik Kohr, who had been outstanding, was sent off after picking up a second yellow and that was the beginning of the end for the home side.
Not long afterwards, Arsenal added a second on the break when Bukayo Saka lashed home superbly. Three minutes later, after a defensive error, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added his name to the scoresheet to put the cherry on top for the visitors.
As it happened:
88' GOAL! 3-0 Arsenal (Aubameyang) And Frankfurt have collapsed. Abraham dallies on the ball, Arsenal nip in and Aubameyang is fed and well, he doesn't miss. That is that. A scoreline that doesn't reflect the game, really. Then again, perhaps it does.
85' GOAL! 2-0 Arsenal (Saka) Now that is a good goal, and the one that decides the game. What was I just saying about chances to end the contest? Martinez rolls it out for Xhaka, he drives forward, Saka gets it on the edge of the box, tucks out and curls it in. A great goal.
84' Cards and chances flying around now. First Kamada is booked then Chambers and then Aubameyang sends an effort wide of the post. Fair to say that if Arsenal do concede, they've had their chances to end the contest.
80' RED CARD! What was I saying about doing everything but score tonight? Kohr picks up his second yellow and is sent off. Frankfurt are down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes. It's a silly foul with minimal contact, but easy to understand why it was given. Kolasinac is off, Maitland-Niles is on. Ceballos and Xhaka stand over the free kick, left of centre and 10, 15 yards back from the edge of the box. Ceballos takes it, but it's poor and straight to Trapp.
78' The Premier League side starting to show their ability to play out a game, although Frankfurt's sudden hectic nature is helping. The Bundesliga side really has done everything but score tonight.
72' Arsenal make a change, looking to sure up the gaps in midfield perhaps. Ceballos is on for the goalscorer. Time ticking away for Frankfurt. This side feels more confident than the one that made the semifinals last season, but not as good. Da Costa, who looks a shadow of the player last season, makes way for Chandler.
69' Kostic flashes a low drive across goal. It was both a shot and an inviting cross for anyone to stab home, but Frankfurt are once again left unrewarded. The move to go with Paciencia and Silva up front makes sense. A bit more pace about now could trouble Arsenal. I can't see this game ending without a Frankfurt goal.
64' Oh Frankfurt. Kamada has a free kick from the left, takes it short to Kostic so he can swing it in but he ends up looping it high and over the goal. Not a great routine that one. Kohr gets booked, then Willock. Frankfurt do make that expected change, with Paciencia coming on for Dost.
59' CHANCE! Honestly, I don't just like the word chance. This game really is that open. Kostic drives forward down the left again, and then plays a low pass back into the box that finds Silva. He has space, but he hammers it over. Frankfurt's game in a chance right there. Right idea, wrong execution. Pepe is on for Smith Rowe.
56' CROSSBAR! Xhaka whips in a free kick from the right and it evades everyone before rattling off the bar. Trapp isn't happy that his defense played for offside and were slow to react. Approaching that time for a change. Frankfurt need a boost in quality. Perhaps Paciencia? Arsenal are about to bring on Pepe.
51' CHANCE! Hinteregger makes a brilliant sliding tackle to deny Aubameyang, but the attack comes after some slack play by Frankfurt. For the first four minutes before that it looked like they had left that behind, but still it lingers.
49' Frankfurt come out in fourth gear. Dost heads wide, again and then a lovely through ball to Silva down the right allows the new man to cross it low towards Kohr. It's deflected wide. Silva wants a handball or a foul or something, but he's looking in the wrong place there. Another attack comes seconds later, but Silva fires over again. Kohr the architect. What a game he is having tonight.
46' Frankfurt get us restarted. No changes.
Frankfurt started really brightly and probably should have scored once. Arsenal were limited but effective on the break and eventually got the goal their chances deserved. That it was a deflection off the underside of the bar is another thing, but it leaves Frankfurt looking at half where they were full of confidence but not the decisive kind of quality.
45' Hasebe gives it away this time. Wow, Frankfurt look like they need halftime and then, out of nothing, Kohr gets the ball into the box for Silva, who forces another good save out of Martinez. He's been impressive, you know?
41' Frankfurt look a bit rattled. Abraham loses the ball in midfield, Saka drives forward but Hasebe does enough to deal with it. Hütter's side, suddenly, need to get to the break without conceding another. Who would have thought that would be the case 15 minutes ago?
38' GOAL! 1-0 Arsenal (Willock) One of them was always going to end this way. Arsenal break. It ends with Willock cutting in from the left and firing goalwards. It clips Abraham bounces off the ground and up over Trapp, who is helpless. It's not a pretty goal, although the counterattack was and it did hit the bar on the way in, but it's probably deserved. Have Frankfurt got a response?
37' Bas Dost heads wide from a corner with perhaps his best chance of the half. Arsenal's marking is questionable.
33' CHANCE! Smith Rowe breaks through the middle after being found by Xhaka and has a chance to tuck it away but Trapp does really well to push it wide with his foot. For the neutral, this game has been thrilling. If you're a fan of either of these two teams, it must be quite stressful.
30' CHANCE! Frankfurt's peppering finally ends and Arsenal break thanks to a clearance by Xhaka that Aubameyang gets on to. He does brilliantly, and sends the low cross to the arriving Joe Willock but the 20-year-old fires over. Another chance that you really must take. All in all, it could be 2-2 but based on the clear-cut nature of the chances it should probably be 2-1 Arsenal. That would be against the run of play, but in line with the xG.
24' CHANCE! Kostic cuts in from the left and speeds past Chambers before firing a powerful shot towards the far post but Martinez makes a strong save to keep the ball out and Arsenal can scramble the ball clear. Fair to say the hosts deserve the lead.
22' Frankfurt are knocking at the door here. Hütter's boys keep winning the ball back quickly and putting Arsenal under pressure. 7-2 in the shots column, and we've only played 20 minutes. Dost sends the latest one just wide after a goalmouth scramble.
18' CHANCE! The game is opening up a bit now. Silva slips in Kostic on the left. He drives into the box from that side, but fires into the side netting. Far corner Filip! Earlier, Hinteregger picked up a yellow a few minutes back, for a late tackle tackle on Smith Rowe who was pushing forward at the time. I only mention it because now the Austrian has to play the rest of the game on a yellow. No easy thing.
14' CHANCE! A misplaced pass by Sow opens the door for Arsenal, but the shot doesn't come quickly enough and Frankfurt escape (again). That really was an invitation.
10' A couple of occasions now where Frankfurt have sent a delightful pass through Arsenal's lines. No chance forthcoming, until Andre Silva lets fly from range. Just wide. Decent, and encouraging for the home side. Arsenal don't look settled yet, which is perhaps to be expected with a younger team.
4' CHANCE! Early sparring eventually ends in Sow striking a low effort towards goal. Easy for Martinez really, but a moment later Arsenal should be ahead. A deep cross from the left finds an unmarked Torreira in the box but he blazes over. Got to take those I'm afraid. Frankfurt survive an early scare.
1' Off we go! Arsenal get us started. The Europa League is underway.
— As expected, a fairly spectacular choreo from the home fans. "Eintracht Frankfurt, my club" are the words held up on a massive banner. Not bad eh?
— Players have been out, the sprinklers are on. We are close to kick off time. I expect it will be very loud in Frankfurt. Will that support give the home side the boost they need to overcome their Premier League opponents? Time to find out.
— Is tonight the night that Frankfurt's run finally ends?
— Worthy of noting that Gladbach and Wolfsburg are also in action tonight. Gladbach host Wolfsberger, while Wolfsburg (shame they weren't in the same group - wolf pack potential and all that) host Ukrainian side Oleksandriya. A good night for Scrabble points I think.
— TEAMS! Frankfurt might look a little different than below tonight, but I fancy Kostic and Da Costa to be the wingbacks in a 5-2-1-2 formation. Seen it before and just think that makes the most sense based on the players in the starting XI. Interesting that Hütter has gone for Dost instead of Paciencia. I think he expects the big man to cause some trouble for a vulnerable Arsenal defense.
As for Arsenal, there are some surprises in this team. Emiliano Martinez starts in goal ahead of Leno (huge call that, I think). Also, Emile Smith Rowe, he of the famously brief loan spell at RB Leipzig, also starts, as does 18-year-old winger Bukayo Saka. Then bench has options (Ceballos, Nelson and Pepe just to name three), but this is a young and brave choice by Unai Emery.
Frankfurt XI: Trapp - Kostic, Abraham, Hasebe, Hinteregger, Da Costa - Kohr, Sow - Kamada - Dost, Silva
Arsenal XI: Martinez - Chambers, Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac - Xhaka, Torreira - Smith Rowe, Willock, Saka - Aubameyang
— While the national debate about goalkeepers is focused on Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer, there are two other keepers playing tonight. Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp are two solid keepers, capable of magic moments, but both perhaps suffer from being in the shadow of Neuer and ter Stegen. It's a tough world out there for German goalkeepers.
— One thing I'm looking forward to tonight is Frankfurt's choreography. Part of their magical adventure last season was the very public connection between their supporters and the team along the way. It was quite the story, and they start a new one all over again tonight. I, for one, can't wait to see what the stadium will look like later.
— Arsenal is the opposition tonight. A side that still hasn't quite managed to keep up with England's leading teams, often hampered by defensive blunders and teams missing just one or two pieces. They do have an impressive attack, even if Lacazette and Özil are not in the squad tonight. One man that is playing is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and our man Janek Speight has written this lovely piece about how different the striker is as he returns to Germany for the first time.
— Good evening! It's Thursday night, which means Eintracht Frankfurt are in European action. After last season's incredible rollercoaster ride of a tournament for Frankfurt, one that ended in the semifinals to eventual winners Chelsea, the Bundesliga side are keen to prove that that was no fluke. Having lost Haller, Jovic and Rebic though, this isn't the same team as last season. Tonight, we'll get the first chance to see whether it's still a team capable of competing in Europe.