Eintracht Frankfurt pulled off a famous win over Arsenal in a half-empty stadium and completely empty away end. Thousands of Frankfurt fans still made the trip to London as the Eagles breathed new life into their season.
Arsenal 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt, Emirates Stadium
(Aubameyang 45+1' — Kamada 55', 64')
Eintracht Frankfurt pulled off a memorable win over Arsenal in London, thanks to Daichi Kamada's second-half goals. And precisely no Frankfurt fans will be able to say: "I was there".
That didn't stop thousands of them making the trip to North London, despite UEFA's collective punishment for the behavior of their fans in a game against Vitoria in Portugal. With thousands off fans locked outside, the entire Frankfurt end of the Emirates Stadium was empty. And with increasing numbers of Arsenal fans voting with their feet in protest of their team's performances, it made for a very strange atmosphere.
The last time Frankfurt were in London they produced a performance with heart and ambition, announcing themselves as a wildly entertaining team backed by amazing support. That night may have ended in defeat by Chelsea but it couldn't have been more different to this lackluster affair at London's quietest stadium. The official attendance given was 49,000, but the real number looked and sounded at least like 20,000 fewer — it was the worst Emirates attendance ever for a men's game.
Frankfurt's sporting director Fredi Bobic probably summed it up best when speaking to DAZN after the game: "The atmosphere was a complete catastrophe," he said. "There was nothing happening. It was just like the weather: dour and boring."
On the field, the first half was a snoozefest as both sides were short of confidence given recent results. With Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Özil, Lucas Torreira, and a host of other Arsenal players out of the starting XI, the only player in their team with any pedigree was the one who broke the deadlock. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang likes playing against Frankfurt and he notched up his 10th goal against them — more than against any other team in his career —with a low shot that crept under goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow.
Arsenal couldn't build on their lead though and a sensational strike by Kamada pulled Frankfurt level. The Japanese international cut inside from the right, leaving Sokratis in his wake as he bent a beautiful shot into the bottom corner. Frankfurt sensed the momentum had changed as they found their voice amid the flat, eerie atmosphere.
The Bundesliga side kept the pressure up and the second goal duly came, and it was Kamada again. This time the 23-year-old seized on a loose ball on the edge of the box, drilling it low beyond the despairing drive of Emiliano Martinez. There were no fans to celebrate with, but Adi Hütter was dancing for joy on the touchline, as his opposite number hung his head.
This was the meeting of two out-of-form teams in a bizarre environment, a far cry from the coruscating atmosphere which saw Arsenal cruise to victory in the reverse fixture in Frankfurt back in September. While Arsenal's own nightmare goes on, Frankfurt dig out a win that should breathe new confidence into their season. If Frankfurt can win at home in their final game against last-in-the-group Vitoria, they will secure a place in the knockout stages for the second season running. And for the Eagles fans in London tonight, the trip will have been worth it.
1-0 wins for Gladbach and Wolfsburg
Elsewhere, a solitary Lars Stindl goal gave Borussia Mönchengladbach a slender 1-0 win at Wolfsberg to put them top of the group ahead of the last round of games. Gladbach host Istanbul Basaksehir in their final game, and must avoid defeat to go through.
Wolfsburgwon 1-0 away against Oleksandriya to secure their path to the last 32. The winner came from Wout Weghorst, whose penalty was his 10th goal of the season.