League leaders RB Leipzig failed to score in the Bundesliga for the first time this season. In Frankfurt, a well-organized and disciplined Eintracht side showed how to tame the Bulls.
The Red Bull outfit had never won in Frankfurt in three previous attempts but arrived on matchday 19 four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and having scored three goals in each of their nine previous games – a new league record.
But, for the first time this season, they didn’t score, slipping to a 2-0 defeat against a highly disciplined opponent who willingly conceded possession, tackled tenaciously, broke dangerously and ultimately benefited from a pinch of luck and a touch of pure class.
The latter came courtesy of full-back Almamy Toure, the French under-21 international rifling a spectacular half-volley into the roof of the net just after half-time to give Eintracht the lead.
It was only Frankfurt’s second shot of the match, while Leipzig had managed 12 in a seemingly one-sided first half. But that’s exactly how Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter would have wanted it.
Just last week, the Eagles won 2-1 away at Hoffenheim despite enjoying only 35 percent possession and they repeated the trick here, a compact 4-4-2 formation allowing them to double up on both wings and field two defensive midfielders.
“We worked well without the ball and scored at just the right time,” said one of them, the tireless Sebastian Rode. “We showed the compactness we were missing before Christmas,” added midfield partner Djibril Sow. Indeed, a mazy dribble from the tricky Christopher Nkunku aside, Leipzig were limited to speculative efforts from long range.
Julian Nagelsmann arrived in Leipzig with the task of developing Ralf Rangnick’s pressing machine into a more rounded unit, capable of playing more possession-based football. And if there was ever a test of those qualities, then this was it. But Leipzig fell short, resorting to a series of crosses which invariably found the head of Martin Hinteregger.
Even the usually deadly Timo Werner screwed a chance over when the ball fell to him in the box. The introduction of Emil Forsberg with ten minutes remaining promised more opportunities from open play, but the Swede was also off target with a free-kick. And as successful as Frankfurt’s game plan was, that was the bit of luck that they also needed on a day where everything fell into place.
Deep into injury time, even Filip Kostic did what he hadn’t managed to do on three previous occasions and produce a final product, tapping home on the counterattack to double Frankfurt’s lead and seal the points.
It was a final flourish to complete a recipe which will have left a sour taste in Leipzig mouths and gives Julian Nagelsmann food for thought.