Leverkusen hold Roma in four-goal thriller to book Europa League final

Sports |  IANS  | Published :

Berlin, May 10 (IANS) Bayer Leverkusen survived a scare against Roma and set a new unbeaten European record of 49 games after snatching a late 2-2 draw to advance 4-2 on aggregate in the UEFA Europa League semifinal second leg.

The Werkself went into the game having won the first leg 2-0, and controlled proceedings for most of the first 45 minutes. Adam Hlozek and Exequiel Palacios tested Roma goalkeeper Mile Svilar from distance while Palacios rattled the woodwork at the half-hour mark.

Leverkusen remained on the front foot but neither Jonas Hofmann nor Amine Adli could beat Svilar from promising positions as the match progressed.

However, the opener was scored at the other end, as Jonathan Tah fouled Sardar Azmoun inside the box, allowing Leandro Paredes to slot home the subsequent penalty to halve the aggregate deficit to 2-1 just before the break.

After the restart, both sides traded attacks, Adli shot just wide of the target while Leverkusen keeper Matej Kovar denied efforts from Azmoun and Stephan El Shaarawy.

Leverkusen remained dangerous but Hofmann couldn't beat Svilar with time and space at the hour mark.

Things went from bad to worse in the 66th minute as the visitors restored parity in the tie after Paredes converted a penalty.

Leverkusen made it 2-1 with great assistance of Ginaluca Mancini, who cleared a corner from Alejandro Grimaldo into his own net with 83 minutes gone.

The hosts weren't done with the scoring, as substitute Josip Stanisic made it 2-2 in the seventh minute of injury time to extend Leverkusen's unbeaten streak to a new European record of 49 games.

The newly-crowned Bundesliga champions have the chance to clinch the treble this season as they clash with Atalanta in the final on May 22 before facing Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

"It was a great and special night we will always remember. It was nail-biting finish. We once again showed our mentality and fought back late. We should have scored in the first half but now we will just enjoy the moment," said Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso.

"It is always very special to book the final in the nick of time. We will give everything to bring the Europa League trophy to Leverkusen," commented veteran midfielder Granit Xhaka.

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