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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Frankfurt fans stunned after 42-year wait for European title

BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Fans of Eintracht Frankfurt have waited quite a while.

When Rafael Borey handed Frankfurt a decisive penalty to win the Europa League With a 5-4 shootout win over Glasgow Rangers in Sevilla, Spain, late Wednesday night, thousands of fans who packed Frankfurt’s home stadium turned out to be on the lookout for Germany.

About 60,000 supporters in and around Frankfurt’s Waldstadion erupted in an ecstatic burst of joy and relief, with fans screaming, jumping, pumping their fists in the air, hugging and roaring were. Some lit flames in the center of the field, others flew giant Eintracht flags. Some even cried.

Frankfurt City streets full of cars honked as strangers wearing scarves exited pubs, hugged each other and celebrated together.

It was Frankfurt’s first European trophy since Fred Schaub won the 1980 UEFA Cup against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the predecessor of the Europa League.

Forty-two years

After Oliver Glasner’s team failed to create several good opening chances against Rangers, the wait for Frankfurt fans was brutally extended through extra time and penalty plays.

So Sacks’ goal – the Colombian forward’s second of the game after his second-half draw – set up a wild party.

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Even the normally restrained Glasner, the calm Austrian coach who led Frankfurt unbeaten through Europe’s secondary competition, attended the ceremony with his players at the Ramon Sánchez-Pizzuan stadium in Sevilla.

“I’m going to party until Saturday and I’m going on vacation on Sunday,” Glasner said.

Glasner looks to prepare for the European Super Cup and then the Champions League against Real Madrid or Liverpool in Helsinki on 10 August, where Frankfurt reached Wednesday’s final.

Those games would provide a welcome advantage for Frankfurt, especially after losses in earnings caused by the coronavirus pandemic, when most Bundesliga games were played with little or no crowds.

But sporting director Marcus Krosh said the club would not change its transfer strategy as it moved into Europe’s premier competition. He added that the club would continue to work “in a clever way and in the forward direction”.

Club president Peter Fischer agreed.

“We are not going on a shopping trip just because we have qualified for the Champions League,” Fischer said. “We may be strong in one or two areas, but there will be no hurricane in this club.”

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Frankfurt, which finished 11th in the Bundesliga, hopes a Europa League victory could usher in a new successful era.

“When you’re recruiting players it’s a little bit easier if you can say you don’t know if you’re going to play Liverpool or Real Madrid, but maybe you want to be there? It sounds better than Gruther Firth,” Fischer said. Referring to the team that finished last in the Bundesliga.

Frankfurt will also look to secure the future of some of its top performers.

Brazil defender Tuta has already extended his contract for three years until 2026, but Filip Kosti, Daiichi Kamada and Ivan Ndika all have just one year left at the club.

The case of star player Koस्टिकtic holds special significance for Frankfurt fans.

“He still has one year on his contract,” Glasner said after Wednesday’s match. “We talked on the field but what I will not say. I don’t think it was his last match.”

Meanwhile, the party was set to continue with around 100,000 fans expected in Frankfurt for the team’s return on Thursday.

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More Associated Press Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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