Eintracht Frankfurt went into this Europa League campaign just happy to be there, but a second straight win has them dreaming of bigger things. However, their celebrations were dampened by some bad news after the match.
Eintracht Frankfurt 4 - 1 Lazio
(Danny da Costa 4', 90'+4, Filip Kostic 28', Luka Jovic 52' - Marco Parolo 23')
Thursday's contest was always going to be highly anticipated in Frankfurt, with Eintracht making their first home appearance in the Europa League since early 2014, but the Eagles' 2-1 win in Marseille in their first Group H game, had only served to heighten the anticipation in Germany's commercial capital.
The game had been sold out for weeks and the 47,000 almost exclusively Frankfurt fans (apart from a few hundred from Rome) saw an entertaining contest from the opening whistle – and they had to wait just four minutes for their first opportunity to celebrate.
Jonathan de Guzman swung a corner into the Lazio area; Danny da Costa escaped his marker and casually volleyed the ball past Silvio Proto in the Roman goal to put the home side 1-0 up, sending the local supporters into a collective state of ecstasy.
A quick equalizer
In the minutes that followed, Lazio began to dominate possession, but Adi Hütter's men continued to try to play the high-pressing game that he wants – and in the 23rd minute, that turned out to be their Achilles heel.
Lazio won the ball back deep in their own half and played it down the left touchline, where Joaquin Correa took it, got into the box, and passed it across the face of goal to an on-running Marco Parolo, whose finish beat Kevin Trapp.
Back into the lead
However, undeterred, Frankfurt pressed on with their game plan, and five minutes after Parolo's equalizer, they were rewarded again. French striker Sebastien Haller lunged into a tackle and won possession on the edge of the Lazio box. He played the ball across to Mijat Gacinovic, who cut it back into space for an on-running Filip Kostic and the Serbian fired it high into the Roman goal to restore the Eagles' one-goal edge, which they would take into the break.
However, just before the two teams headed to their dressing rooms, the visitors found themselves down to 10 men – as Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk handed Dusan Basta a second yellow card for holding back Kostic as he tried to break after a Lazio corner.
Now with a one-man advantage, Frankfurt continued to go at Lazio from the opening whistle of the second half, and seven minutes in, they were rewarded again. This time it was on a counter, as defender Marco Russ headed a cross out of his own area and Haller took off down the pitch with Luka Jovic keeping pace with him to his left. Haller played the Serbian through and Jovic placed a beautiful chip over a charging Proto, which dropped comfortably under the bar to make the score 3-1.
A second sending off
Just minutes later, Frankfurt got another break as Correa caught de Guzman with a tackle from behind – and was given a straight red card for an offense that many referees would have only sanctioned with a yellow.
Down to nine men, there was no way back for Lazio, who had traveled to Frankfurt doubtlessly expecting to return to Italy with at least a point.
Danny Da Costa put the icing on the cake in time added on, providing the easy finish after Taleb Tawatha had spotted him all alone at the far post to make it a 4-1 final score.
Adi Hütter and his men probably would have taken two points from their first two games, which came against the two strongest opponents in Group H. But with six points, they now find themselves looking down at the rest of the group, with Lazio on three and Apollon and Olympique Marseille, who played to a 2-2 draw in Nicosia on Thursday, on one point each.
There's still a long way to go in the group stage, and they did get a bit of help from the referee on Thursday, but Eintracht Frankfurt will take it.
"Now it's down to us to ensure that we advance to the next round," said Fredi Bobic, Frankfurt's managment board member in charge of sport.
Bad news dampens the mood
After the match, though, the players celebrations were dampened by the news that the brother of Lucas Torro had died suddenly the night before.
Coach Hütter told reporters at the post-match press conference that he had gathered his players in a circle to congratulate them on their performance but also to inform them of the news of the death of Torro's brother. Hütter said that although Torro had learned the news before the game, he had insisted on playing the match. The player is now to travel to Spain to be with his family, and will not be in the lineup when Frankfurt visit Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Sunday.