Eintracht Frankfurt delivered a controlled performance in front of their delirious fans to defeat West Ham United 1-0 yesterday and move into the Europa League final 3-1 on aggregate.
But the dream of an all-Bundesliga final in Seville on May 18 was crushed as RB Leipzig lost 1-3 at Rangers in the other semi-final second leg.
The German side had won only 1-0 at home last week, and have now lost out on a 3-2 aggregate.
Eintracht Frankfurt were handed the initiative after 17 minutes when Aaron Cresswell hauled down Jens Petter Hauge.
Even though the referee initially gave him a yellow card, a video review deservedly upgraded this to a red card.
And less than 10 minutes later Rafael Borre guided in a precise finish from Ansgar Knauff’s cut-back to put Eintracht Frankfurt even more on top after their 2-1 win in London.
“That was a wonderful evening, one you never forget,” said Eintracht Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner. “The team has given everything.
“It is the best when you can give so many people pleasure. Now we’re looking forward to the final.”
West Ham fought bravely but struggled to create chances.
Kurt Zouma’s bundled effort being cleared off the line at the end of the first half was as close as they came to getting back into the match.
“A red card is always going to make it a mountain to climb,” said midfielder Declan Rice. “We had genuine belief that over two legs they weren’t going to beat us.”
Eintracht Frankfurt held on in relative comfort and, after eliminating record winners Sevilla, FC Barcelona and now West Ham, will be feeling the scent of a second European title.
They will feel, after the 1980 UEFA Cup, it is within touching distance.
Home fans poured onto the pitch at full-time but largely seemed to avoid confronting West Ham fans in their corner of the ground.
“That’s Frankfurt. That’s the joy in life,” said club president Peter Fischer.
It was an understandable, if risky, conclusion to the love affair Eintracht Frankfurt developed with the Europa League since their run to the semi-finals in 2019.
Three years ago their hopes were ended by Chelsea but will firmly believe this is their year.
But they should not be underestimating the challenge posed by the Scottish champions, who also eliminated Borussia Dortmund in a previous round.
Rangers immediately dominated RB Leipzig and first half goals from captain James Tavernier and Glen Kamara put them in front.
“That was too little,” RB Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff said. “For a semi-final it wasn’t enough. There was more of us expected.”
RB Leipzig had been on a great run under coach Domenico Tedesco since his appointment in December but have stumbled out of the 2021/2022 Bundesliga’s UEFA Champions League spots recently.
Their bid for a maiden trophy, however, will continue in the German Cup final against Freiburg.
Christopher Nkunku levelled on aggregate midway through the second half but John Lindstram blasted a late winner to send Rangers into a first European final since 2008.
“We wanted to do it for Jimmy [Bell, the Rangers kitman who died this week]. He will be looking down proud of us,” Tavernier said.
“We’ll go there [Seville] full of confidence. Eintracht Frankfurt got there for a reason, but it’s one game and we’ll fully back ourselves. We’re in this to win it. We want to make all the fans proud.”