Eintracht Frankfurt won the Europa League final in Seville on Wednesday night following a gruelling match against Rangers at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium. The German side picked up their second European title after the game went to a penalty shoot-out, while Rangers lost another final in this competition, in recent years, the last in 2008.
It was a highly-contested game in the Andalusian capital, with Eintracht eventually coming out on top thanks to Santos Borré’s penalty, which was enough to win. The German side also booked their place in next season’s Champions League group stage, while Rangers just fell short .
Eintracht denied Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side - which suffered from nerves when it really mattered, namely Aaron Ramsey’s missed penalty in the shoot-out - the chance to complete what would have been a fairytale journey for Rangers. The Glaswegians would have gone from liquidation and starting from scratch in the fourth division of Scottish football in 2012 to winning a major European trophy in the space of a decade.
Rangers’ journey in the Europa League was an epic quest, which began in the summer after narrowly beating Alashkert to make it to the group stages while still under the management of Steven Gerrard. The Scottish side impressed in the latter phases of the competition, defeating two German giants in Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, though they couldn’t beat a third in Eintracht.
And Rangers were no different or less impressive in the final. Van Bronckhorst proposed a very sturdy gameplan to neutralise the opposition, as the Light Blues were patient, physical and composed, compared to Eintracht’s ‘blitzkrieg’ approach of constant pressure and speed, though weak once inside the box.
The battle between Eintracht’s Filip Kostic and Rangers’ James Tavernier provided some of the game’s best moments, in stark contrast to some of the off-pitch trouble between a small number of fans from both sides.
Kostic, who has a rocket for a left foot, was constantly darting up and down the wing, though his perfectly placed crosses often failed to meet any of his teammates. And Rangers took advantage of their opponent’s mistake to open the scoring, as Joe Aribo found himself one-on-one with Kevin Trapp to slot home the first goal of the night.
Eintracht pulled one back thanks to Santos Borré just over ten minutes later, and from that point it was a war of attrition. Neither side was willing to take any risks, which led to a much slower game of football.
Trapp was the eventual hero for the Germans, as not only did he save Ramsey’s penalty in the shoot-out, but also pulled off an outstanding, point-blank save in the second-half of extra-time that would have given Rangers the win. Luck was on Eintracht’s side in Seville, and it wasn’t meant to be for the Glaswegians.