Frankfurt frustrated in top four race despite Hrustic strike


Berlin (AFP) – Australian midfielder Ajdin Hrustic scored a bizarre late equaliser on Sunday to give Eintracht Frankfurt a 1-1 draw with local rivals Mainz and prevent their Champions League suffering a worse blow. 

Hrustic managed to lob Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zentner while lying on the floor to score his first ever Bundesliga goal.

The draw dropped Frankfurt out of the top four for the first time since January, as they slipped a point behind Borussia Dortmund. 

Austrian striker Karim Onisiwo fired Mainz in front with a daisy-cutting long-range effort on 11 minutes.

Frankfurt remained blunt for much of the second half, before Hrustic struck late to save a point.

Having fallen over after his first shot was blocked, the midfielder flicked out his left leg from the floor to send the rebound looping into the net. 

Mainz, who seemed certain to go down for much of the season,  moved six points clear of the drop zone. They have not lost since March. 

Earlier Sunday, strugglers Cologne suffered another blow in their bid to avoid relegation as a disputed handball decision and a missed penalty saw them slip to a 4-1 defeat at home to Freiburg.

Friedhelm Funkel’s side remain two points adrift of safety, with the two teams above them, Arminia Bielefeld and Hertha Berlin, set to play later Sunday.

Nils Petersen pounced on some sloppy defending from Ellyes Skhiri to give Freiburg the lead on 18 minutes, before Ermedin Demirovic doubled the lead with a tap-in two minutes later. 

Cheered on by fans from outside the stadium, the hosts came out fighting in the second half. 

Sebastian Andersson pulled a goal back with a brilliant first-time finish four minutes after the break. Cologne looked set to equalise when Ismail Jakobs was brought down in the box on the counter-attack.

Yet Ondrej Duda slipped as he took the penalty, skying the ball high into the empty stands. 

Cologne had the ball in the net in stoppage time, but the goal was controversially disallowed for handball, despite video footage showing it had struck Hector’s shoulder. 

“It wasn’t a handball for me — I don’t know what a handball is anymore. It’s extremely bitter, because it would have been an important point for us today,” said Hector.

The hosts then fell apart in the dying minutes as Vincenzo Grifo and Jonathan Schmid sealed the win for Freiburg with two goals on the counter-attack. 

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