With passage from Group G already secured, Dino Toppmöller's men welcomed PAOK Thessaloniki to the Deutsche-Bank Arena tonight. With top spot at stake, Frankfurt fought hard but were ultimately undone by the Greek side on a 2-1 scoreline.
|Photo: Biso, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
The game entered somewhat of a lull as half-time neared. Despite Die Adler bossing over 60 percent of possession, their Greek counterparts defended expertly. Nothing separated the two as the teams headed for the dressing rooms after a scoreless 45 minutes.
If the first half was slow-burning, the restart burst to life in an instant with the scoreboard reading 1-1 as the 60th minute neared. PAOK drew first blood as Kedziora capitalised on slack defending from Dina-Ebimbe and Tuta. However, Toppmöller's troops restored parity three minutes later. Chaïbi's cross perfectly met by Marmoush's head at the near post.
The visitors would crucially re-establish their lead with just under 20 minutes left to play. A moment Kevin Trapp won't look back on fondly either. The normally ultra-consistent shot-stopper parried Brandon's effort into the path of Zivković who was on hand to punish. Frankfurt’s night was compounded by Jakic's late dismissal for arguing arbiter Sylwestrak's decision.
Not the desired result but second place secured, the Round of 32 phase awaits Toppmöller and Frankfurt in the new year.