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Frankfurt finds fulfilment in Europa League

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-05-07 10:01
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Frankfurt's Sebastian Rode celebrates with fans after reaching the Europa League final after the match in Frankfurt, May 5, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN -- As the Frankfurt arena turned into a wild party zone, some of the players' interviews came to an abrupt end.

Eintracht Frankfurt reached its first European final for 42 years after a 1-0 home win on Thursday over 10-man West Ham United sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory in their UEFA Europa League semifinal.

Midfielder Timothy Chandler was not the only one in trouble when conducting an interview.

Thousands of Frankfurt supporters entered the pitch after the final whistle and carried Chandler away on their shoulders after the historic achievement.

42 years after Frankfurt last reached and won the UEFA Cup final against Borussia Monchengladbach, the doors open again to set a new mark.

Despite a bumpy start coming along with an early exit in the German Cup against a third-tier team and disappointing performance in the Bundesliga, Frankfurt seems to have found fulfilment in the Europa League.

For decades, the Europa League was deemed an invisible existence in Germany. Some called the competition a "loser's cup" as only the Champions League seemed to create happiness.

Beating West Ham following a stunning victory over Spanish giants Barcelona, Frankfurt earned redemption after narrowly losing the Europa League semifinal on penalties to Chelsea in 2019.

The club might face a fine by UEFA after Thursday's fan invasion, but things went smoothly with players partying with fans for hours.

Coach Oliver Glasner and his players praised the squad's special approach and spoke of the historic achievement.

"We might not be the best coaches and not the best players, but for sure we are a special group having developed a unique spirit," the Austrian said.

The critical view many German clubs have of the Europa League might change significantly due to Frankfurt's performance, despite RB Leipzig losing the other semifinal against Scotland's Rangers, whom Frankfurt will face in the final on May 18.

The winner qualifies for next season's Champions League campaign.

"The Europa League is our competition. Last time against Chelsea we narrowly missed the big step. Now it's time to finish the story in the final," Frankfurt defender Martin Hinteregger said. 

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