Conference League: Throwing a cup spoils Eintracht Frankfurt’s victory at HJK Helsinki

Dream goal ensures progression
Throwing a cup at the head mars Frankfurt’s triumph

After the 6-0 defeat in Frankfurt, Helsinki is clearly improved in the second duel with Eintracht. On Finnish artificial turf, a backheel shot against the post and the throw of a cup from the SGE block caused early excitement. Then Frankfurt will get their ticket to the knockout round of the Conference League.

Thanks to luck and a dream goal from Farès Chaibi, Eintracht Frankfurt won 1-0 (1-0) at HJK Helsinki and secured their place in the Conference League over the winter. With the temperature just above freezing and on artificial turf, Chaibi scored from the edge of the penalty area into the top corner in the 31st minute. Because PAOK Saloniki played 2-2 against FC Aberdeen in the parallel game, the Bundesliga club’s success means they have secured the intermediate round and have the best chance of winning the group. The game on November 30th against PAOK will be the preliminary decision. Only the group winner is directly in the round of 16.

“In the next game we have it in our own hands. It is our big goal to advance as first in the group,” said SGE goalkeeper Kevin Trapp on RTL+ and especially praised the winning goal scorer. Chaibi was “a rascal, he played a great game, was always dangerous. The goal is of course beautiful.”

The hosts, who had been defeated 6-0 in the first leg and had already ended the season weeks ago by winning their 33rd championship title in Finland, tried to prevent another disaster and set their own course for the future. However, a lot of things got stuck in the beginning, although the Frankfurt team initially didn’t put up a consistent fight – but also didn’t create enough scoring opportunities.

Without the injured defensive regulars Robin Koch and Tuta, but with Mario Götze, three other newcomers and the momentum from the Bundesliga, the Frankfurt team needed little start-up time. The SGE set the first example with Ellyes Skhiri’s hit on the post (7th). He artistically brought the ball to the goal with his heel, where Helsinki keeper Niki Mäenpää directed it against the post. In the seconds that followed, it was chaotic: One after the other, Willian Pacho and Hugo Larsson poked the ball, which was just managed to be fended off by Helsinki players. The Finns had no chance when the Algerian Chaibi made it 1-0, who shot the ball into the right corner from the left edge of the penalty area.

“If Helsinki were more determined…”

Eintracht increasingly restricted the Finnish champions, who were a little more courageous than in the first duel, but then the fans from Frankfurt who had traveled with them caused a stir. HJK player Santeri Hostikka was hit by a cup from the SGE block, the referee continued the game after a short interruption. Only then did Chaibi reward the Hessians with a fantastic shot into the corner. Eintracht, who have recently been on a high in the league, earned the lead with a confident performance.

“If Helsinki were more determined, it could be dangerous,” warned Eintracht sports director Timmo Hardung during the half-time break. “We have a lot of control of the game going forward, but we would like to have a few more chances and goals.” The hope was not fulfilled as Helsinki worked courageously to equalize in front of around 10,000 spectators and the Hessians did not do enough to score another goal. However, they almost made it 2-0 in the 54th minute through Chaibi. However, he missed from ten meters.

National goalkeeper Kevin Trapp (61′) proved to be a savior in an emergency when he blocked a shot with his foot from Santeri Hostikka, who was charging towards him alone. It was precisely in this situation that it became apparent that the coordination in the defense chain was not optimal due to the failures of the regulars Koch and Tuta, who were replaced by Aurélio Buta and Hrvoje Smolcic. This also applied in the 68th minute, when the goal was conceded after an unjustified free kick, but was not recognized by the referee.

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