SEVILLE: Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers 5-4 on penalties last night to win the Europa League final and claim their first European trophy in 42 years.
Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp saved Aaron Ramsey’s spot-kick – Rangers’ fourth – while Eintracht were flawless in their execution, scoring all five. The game had finished 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Joe Aribo had struck against the run of play in the 57th minute to give the Rangers the lead, charging clear after a string of defensive errors and sliding the ball past Trapp.
The Germans, unbeaten in the competition going into the final and eyeing their first European title since 1980, bounced back as Rafael Borre snuck in between two defenders to turn in a Filip Kostic cross in the 70th.
The win also means Eintracht will be competing in next season’s Champions League despite finishing in 11th place in the Bundesliga.
Rangers ended extra time the stronger side, but a brilliant save from Trapp ensured the game went to the shootout where the Germans' superb technique and mental strength won it.
In intense heat and a stadium packed with Scots and Germans, Rangers received an early scare.
Eintracht’s Japanese winger Daichi Kamada weaved his way deep into the penalty area, but Rangers keeper Allan McGregor got down to foil him and was able to recover to deal with Djibril Sow’s effort from the loose ball.
McGregor was soon back in action, doing well to tip an Ansgar Knauff effort wide as the Germans enjoyed the better of the early exchanges.
Rangers were struggling to get a foothold in the game, but fired a warning when Aribo was given space to turn on the edge of the box and his shot curled just wide of the far post.
Frankfurt keeper Trapp was then brought into action to palm over a John Lundstram header as the Scottish side ended the half looking more confident.
Rangers started brightly after the break and could have taken the lead when James Tavernier led a swift break down the right and the ball fell to Ryan Kent at the back of the box but his hurried shot was sliced well wide.
Minutes later though the Glasgow side grabbed the advantage – Brazilian defender Tuta slipped as he tried to reach a poor header back from Sow, leaving Aribo to go through and confidently slip the ball past Trapp.
Frankfurt responded with urgency and Kamada should have done better when he ran onto a flick over the top from Sebastian Rode but lifted the ball over the bar.
The leveller came when the dangerous Kostic was allowed to fire in a low cross from the left and Colombian Borre reacted quickest, sneaking in front of Calvin Bassey to steer the ball home.
Rangers recovered from the blow and both sides sought to win the game inside the 90 minutes but neither could stop the encounter from entering extra time.
There was little between the teams in the opening period but after the change around, Borna Barisic fired a long-range effort straight at Trapp and then Ajdin Hrustic drilled a shot just wide for Eintracht.
It was the Rangers who went closest to winning the contest though, in the final minutes, when substitute Kemar Roofe flashed a ball across the box to Kent whose low shot was superbly blocked by Trapp.
Trapp was alert again to keep out a free kick from Tavernier to ensure the final went to penalties.
The quality of the spot-kicks was outstanding with just one player fluffing his lines as Ramsey’s soft effort was saved by Trapp after the first six shots had all found the net.
It came down to Borre to settle the contest and the Colombian, like all his team mates, kept his cool to set off the celebrations for the thousands of Germans in the stadium.