European glory is Eintracht Frankfurt's once again. For the first time since 1980, the German club won a continental trophy, winning the Europa League on Wednesday by beating Rangers in penalty kicks. The match ended 1-1, and Eintracht won in the penalty shootout 5-4.
Kevin Trapp denied Aaron Ramsey's attempt, Rangers' fourth, opening the door for the German club, and they'd take advantage as Rafael Santos Borre delivered once again. The Colombian international scored the crucial equalizer in regulation, and he also fired home the winning penalty kick with a fierce strike on a hot night at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. As a result, Eintracht have qualified for next season's Champions League.
Here's the moment Eintracht won it:
It took a while for the goals to come in this tense showdown. A tame, fairly even opening half brought zero goals and few quality chances, but the opener arrived on 57 minutes thanks to Joe Aribo. The England-born Nigerian striker capitalized on Eintracht defender Tuta's slip, allowing him to get in on goal, scoring with a low finish that lacked a bit of accuracy but managed to trickle past Trapp. It was a finish that the game needed to open up, and from there it did.
Rangers, prioritizing defense, looked to see out the final half an hour with a style of defending and then countering, but it was Eintracht who needed the goal and got it. Borre scored a true poacher's goal, hitting home a cross from six yards out in the 69th minute to bring the slight favorites level.
The rest of regulation and the first 15 minutes of extra time brought very little on the attacking side, but in the second half, Rangers nearly won it. Ryan Kent had a fantastic chance in front of goal after a dashing run from the middle, but his effort was denied by an alert Trapp, preventing what probably should have been a goal from the Scottish side.
The goalkeeper would come up big again in the shootout, staying towards the middle to deny Ramsey's shot and put his team in position to earn the trophy, while Eintracht put on a penalty clinic, making all five of their opportunities to send them to the summit of the competition.
Here's what to know:
With the result Eintracht will feel ...
Absolutely elated. It's been a long time coming, they put all of their eggs in their Europa League basket, and it has paid off with a remarkable run to the final. They dominated Barcelona, they took care of arguably the best West Ham we've seen in a long time, and in the end they finished the tournament on what can only be describe as an epic string of results.
They played 13 games in this season's Europe League, and they never lost once. This was also their only chance to return to European competition next season, as the win grants them a Champions League birth. They finished 11th in the 18 team Bundesliga, and unbelievably only won three more games domestically, 10, than they did in the Europa League, seven.
With the result Rangers will feel ...
Devastated. They were painfully close. A decade ago, Rangers were demoted to the fourth division after going into administration before a takeover by English businessman Charles Green. Ten years later, they were this close to earning their biggest trophy in 50 years.
But they have plenty of reason to be proud. Nobody gave them a chance against Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16, let alone thought they could make it to Seville. After losing star striker Alfredo Morelos to injury, they rallied under Giovanni van Brockhorst, and their fans will now believe that this could be the start of something special. There is no making them feel better, but brighter days may be ahead for a club that not long ago was at rock bottom.
This one is easy. While the goals were obviously big, Rangers probably should have won it in extra time. But Trapp's save on Kent was just massive. Watch how he tracks the ball from the endline and positions himself to make this stop:
Man of the match
It's Trapp again. How could it not be? The key save in extra time, the crucial stop on Ramsey in penalties, he did it all. And, as long as you aren't a Rangers fan, you have to feel good for a guy like Trapp. The 31-year-old German shot stopper earned his first international club trophy in this game after some rough patches in the past. Remember PSG's epic collapse at Barcelona in the Champions League back in 2017? PSG won the first leg 4-0 and lost the second leg 6-1 in a shocking defeat at the Camp Nou. Trapp was the goalkeeper that day for PSG -- and it was surely one of the darkest days of his career. Just over five years later, he's won his first trophy with a club the the club where's spent the majority of his career.
Questionable call of the game
John Lundstram did not deserve to play the rest of the first half after this challenge on Sebastian Rode. His cleat was dangerously high, he gave Rode a nasty cut that saw blood rushing down his face seconds later, and the fact that he didn't even get a yellow for it was baffling. It should have been a straight red, yet somehow it wasn't.
That was the final game of the season for Frankfurt, and now some time off is to come before preseason preparation. Eintracht will of course be in UCL group stage next season. Rangers still have their domestic cup final against Hearts looming on Saturday, and then will start their European campaign in the Champions League's third qualifying round next season, potentially making the group stage, heading to Europa League or exiting Europe all together. If they are eliminated in the third qualifying round, they are out of European competition. If they make the playoff round and advance, they'll be in the UCL group stage, and if they make the playoff and lose, they'll be back in the Europa League group stage.