SEVILLE (Reuters) – Eintracht Frankfurt ended their 42-year barren run in Europe on Wednesday, beating Rangers 5-4 on penalties to lift the Europa League title in a final that will be remembered for the show put on by both sets of fans in a packed Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
The German team fought back from being a goal down to bring the game to a 1-1 draw before a tense 30 minutes of extra time ended without further scoring. They were roared on by Eintracht fans that were outnumbered by the Scottish club’s supporters – but tireless in Seville’s 30-degree heat as the clock ticked past 11 p.m. local time.
Rangers and Eintracht fans had been piling into southern Spain’s largest city over the previous few days. An estimated 150,000 fans arrived, the vast majority without tickets for the big game.
The two finalists were allocated only 10,000 tickets each at the 42,000-capacity Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. But the stands were rammed with white Eintracht and blue Rangers jerseys, creating a vibrant atmosphere and a din that is rare for a European decider when fans of the two finalists must travel – often a long distance – to a neutral stadium and share it with locals and UEFA sponsors’ guests.
The German fans brought thousands of white flags, black and white scarfs and a giant banner that covered their official end of the stadium, lighting flares to accompany the start of second half.
Rangers fans turned up the volume when the referee’s coin toss decided the penalty shootout would take place at their end of the stadium. But their wall of noise failed to distract the five Eintracht players who all scored from the spot.
When Santos Borre converted the last for Eintracht to claim a European trophy for the first time since 1980, their fans kicked off rapturous celebrations that continued for almost an hour after captain Sebastian Rode lifted the trophy, belting out the club anthem and ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen in the festivities.
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)