Champions League, also in 2023: The European specialists from Eintracht Frankfurt have made the historic entry into the round of 16 of the premier class. Thanks to an increase in performance and high morale in the second half, Eintracht prevailed 2-1 (0-1) at Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday evening.

Daichi Kamada (62nd minute/hand penalty) and Randal Kolo Muani (72nd) scored in a heated game that ensured that the Frankfurters were in the knockout phase of Europe’s highest competition for the first time in their club history. Arthur Gomes (39th) had given the Portuguese the lead in front of 41,744 spectators in the first half, but that wasn’t enough.

It went back and forth in a crazy constellation on Tuesday evening: if Eintracht was last at half-time and out, after the end of the game it was enough for the longed-for progress, which brought the Hessians at least two more evenings in the Champions League.

At the end of a memorable European year in 2022, Frankfurt were poised to wrap things up in Portugal’s capital. An hour before kick-off, the fans who had traveled with them were roaring loudly about the hoped-for “away win”, which would bring them a secure ticket to the round of 16 in the premier class. Eintracht could have gotten rid of significantly more than the 2500 cards, but the hosts apparently prevented that. “It is a pity. I think it’s exaggerated. It’s about 5000 to 6000 tickets. That shows how much respect they have for us,” said sports director Markus Krösche at DAZN.

It was intense and heated on the pitch right from the start. Referee Slavko Vincic, who also whistled at Frankfurt’s Europa League triumph in Seville in May, quickly handed out two yellow cards to the guests from Hesse, who, given the constellation, started boldly, but initially dosed their risk. Eintracht had the greatest chance of the first half hour when Paulinho extended a corner from Mario Götze in such a way that goalkeeper Antonio Adan had to save. Previously, Kevin Trapp had defused a volley from Sporting striker Marcus Edwards (8th).

At first there was little to see of Frankfurt’s notorious offensive force around Götze and the turbo attackers Randal Kolo Muani and Jesper Lindström. As in the 3-0 win in the first leg in September, Sporting knew how to hit Eintracht’s attacking line with determination and toughness.

There was hardly a goal chance from the game until the break. Coach Glasner emphasized before the game: “We always play to win. I think you could see it that way in many appearances.” For a long time, Sporting was hardly any better offensively and hastily missed promising scenes in the last third. Then a slightly extended cross from Manuel Ugarte found the free-standing Gomes, who shot in the middle. Trapp was still on it, but could no longer fend off the shot from close range.

After the break, Glasner brought on his captain Sebastian Rode for Lindström, which came as a surprise given the deficit and the starting position. Eintracht kept up well, but failed to significantly increase the risk accordingly. Sebastián Coates’ handball penalty came out of nowhere. The Sporting fans tried to irritate Kamada with green laser pointers, but the Japanese effortlessly equalized from the point.

Frankfurt then increasingly took control and increased the pressure. Rode directed the game, Götze set dangerous standards in front of the goal and Glasner switched more and more offensively from the bench. Then the extremely energetic Kolo Muani broke through on the right and shot powerfully into the far corner. Frankfurt’s joy now knew no bounds.

However, coach Glasner did not want to allow his pros any big celebrations even after the historic round of 16 entry. “The boys don’t know yet, but there’s no celebration today. We’ll toast, but then it’s off to bed. We’re going to pull this through to Mainz. I have a bonus for the players: in January they can start training one day later,” said Glasner after the 2-1 win.

Spokesman for the board, Axel Hellmann, said: “We’ll make sure that the team gets enough sleep.” This is different for the delegation.