Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs first leg: Frankfurt draw, Sturm Cross celebrate | UEFA Europa Conference League

Eintracht Frankfurt got off to a solid start to the second leg with a draw at Union SG in the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League's knockout round. Sturm Kross had reason to celebrate after a clear win over Sloven Bratislava.

UEFA.com summarizes Thursday's games.

Spielen is the conference league forecaster

Union SG – Frankfurt 2:2


Fares Saibi gave Frankfurt the lead at Union SGBelga/AFP via Getty Images

The visitors got off to a perfect start after goals from Fares Saibi and Sasa Kalajjic led 2-0 after ten minutes. The hosts found it difficult to get into the game, but after a mistake by Ellies Skry, they were able to go close through Mathias Rasmussen before the break.

Only Union SG played in the second half and Gustaf Nilsson scored a deserved goal to equalize 2-2. After Charles Vanhout was sent off, Eintracht dominated for more than ten minutes, but had no chance for another goal.

Real Betis – Dinamo Zagreb 0:1

Bruno Petkovic scored for Dinamo

Bruno Petkovic scored for DinamoGood pictures

Bruno Petkovic's second-half penalty gave the Croatian champions a narrow victory in Seville. Clear chances to score were few and far between in the second half until Betis defender Riad volleyed in the penalty area.

Petkovic took over and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Rui Silva for the only goal of the game. Betis striker Willian Jose had a chance to equalize in the closing stages, but his beautiful free kick failed to hit the post.

Ajax – Bodø/Glimt 2:2

Albert Cronbach scored the opening goal in Amsterdam

Albert Cronbach scored the opening goal in AmsterdamANP via Getty Images

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Captain Steven Berghuis scored an injury-time equalizer to rescue Ajax from a draw against the visitors from Norway. Albert Kronback put Bodø/Glimt on course for victory in the 16th minute and extended the lead with a brace just after the hour mark.

At stoppage time, events came to a head. First, Branco van den Boomen rounded off the scoring from the spot after substitute Odin Bjørtuft was sent off for a foul on Brian Brophy, before the Berkus scored a celebrated equalizer just before the final whistle.

Sturm Cross – Slovan Bratislava 4:1

Sturm needed no warm-up time and took the lead in the fourth minute with a goal from Mika Beereth. The visitors were not fazed by this and leveled moments later through Gerson Rodríguez. Jon Stankovic scored before the break to make it 2-1 to Austria.

The hosts were in control in the second half and Otar Kittishvili made it 3-1. Sturm's Amadi Kamara scored the final point in an entertaining game after Sloan's Wladimir Weiss was sent off.

What's next?

The second leg will be played on February 22. The winners will take part in the round of 16 draw on February 23, where they will be unseeded.

Aston Villa (ENG), Club Brugge (BEL), Fenerbahce (TUR), Fiorentina (ITA), LOSC Lille (FRA), Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR), PAOK (GRE), Viktoria Plzeň (CZE).

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What else has happened?

• Ayoub El Gabi's late winner puts Olympiakos in good stead for the second leg against Ferencvaros.

• Molde almost had to hold out for a draw against Legia despite already leading 3-0 after 24 minutes thanks to a brace from Fredrik Gulbrandsen. A volley from Jose and a header from Rafal Augustiniak seven minutes into the second half ensured a thrilling finale, but the hosts held on for victory.

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• Seven of the eight games ended in a draw or a one-goal win.

What are the knockout round play-offs?

16 teams participate in the knockout round play-offs of the UEFA Europa Conference League: the eight runners-up in the UEFA Europa Conference League group and the eight third-placed teams in the UEFA Europa League.

The duels will be decided on a return leg basis and will conclude on February 22. Away goals rule abolished. The eight winners will participate in the Round of 16 draw on February 23 (the eight group winners had already qualified for this). The 2023/24 European Cup season ends for eight losers.

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