Eintracht Frankfurt hadn’t played in a European final in 42 years. Rangers slipped into administration a short decade ago.
Both are now back in the big time.
Frankfurt and Rangers booked their places in the Europa League final after winning their semifinal matchups on Thursday. Frankfurt shut out 10-man West Ham United to advance 3-1 on aggregate, and Rangers overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit with a thundering 3-1 victory at home to RB Leipzig.
The final will take place at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on May 18.
Aaron Cresswell’s red card in the 18th minute all but ended West Ham’s hopes of a comeback. The Hammers trailed 2-1 on aggregate after losing the first leg at home and needed to win by two goals on Thursday to progress without the help of penalties. But Frankfurt scored instead, adding insurance with Rafael Borre’s strike in the 26th minute.
Rangers captain James Tavernier sparked scenes of jubilation in the 19th minute at Ibrox when he buried his Europa League-leading seventh goal of the campaign. Minutes later, Glen Kamara arrowed an accurate left-footed shot into the bottom corner to double the advantage. Rangers held Leipzig goalless until the 71st minute when Christopher Nkunku leveled the tie with a cushioned volley from close range.
But the Scottish side fired back in the 81st minute. As Leipzig scrambled to clear the area, midfielder John Lundstram pounced on the loose ball and slotted it home.
Rangers can now look forward to their first European final since 2008 when they lost to Zenit St. Petersburg in the former UEFA Cup.
Both finalists navigated tough roads to reach the showpiece event. Frankfurt beat Real Betis in the round of 16 before famously eliminating Barcelona in the quarterfinals with a memorable 3-2 win at Camp Nou.
Rangers advanced to the knockout round as the worst of the second-place teams from the group stage. After collecting just eight points from six round-robin matches, the Gers knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the playoffs before beating Red Star Belgrade in the round of 16 and Braga in the quarterfinals.
Steven Gerrard also left the club midway through the campaign, leaving Giovanni van Bronckhorst to take the reins. The Dutchman has compiled a 25-7-6 record since replacing Gerrard in November.