OWithout a stopover in the round of 16: Bayer Leverkusen used the new Europa League mode and, thanks to their fighting spirit, jumped three hurdles at once. With the 3-2 (1-1) win against Celtic Glasgow, Bayer secured progress and victory in Group G even before the last group game, thus avoiding the two games in the knockout round. After graduating from Ferencvaros Budapest on December 9, Bayer will not intervene again until March 10. Borussia Dortmund, which is relegated from the Champions League, has to start one round beforehand, for example.
The best player on the field was Leverkusen’s Robert Andrich. The midfielder had put Bayer in the lead (16th) and equalized again after the goals conceded by Josip Juranovic (40th, penalty kick) and Jota (56th) (82nd). Moussa Diaby finally secured the group win with the decisive goal in addition to progressing (87th).
The Scots did not hide, spurred on by almost 2000 enormously vocal supporters, and looked for their chance of progressing and even winning the group. Bayer, who started with a rump team – there were only five outfield players instead of the ten permitted players on the bench – soon made safety through ball relays. Two players in particular took charge of the game: full-back Jeremie Frimpong, who moved from Celtic to Leverkusen in January, who seemed to be spurred on by the whistles of the supporters of Celtic Glasgow. Andrich, who started the first shot (9th), just missed with his head after the corner due (10th) and hit after the next from Florian Wirtz.
After that, Bayer let go in front of 19,830 spectators. The hard-working Scots actually lacked class and speed to get dangerously in front of the Leverkusen goal. So a penalty had to serve: Lukas Hradecky, Werkself goalkeeper, knocked down striker Kyogo Furuhashi after a cross. Referee Anatasios Sidiropoulos initially allowed the game to continue, but pointed to the point after the video assistant intervened. Juranovic lifted the goal in Panenka style.
The fact that Bayer did not take a lead into the dressing room was due to a curious situation: First Diaby hit the right post, followed by Wirtz the left (44th). After the break, Amine Adli also stumbled into the lead (54th). They scored the Scots when, of all people, Frimpong slipped away when trying to clear his former team. Jota’s goal came from Celtic’s second shot on goal. In the final phase, Bayer rewarded themselves thanks to the hits from the outstanding Andrich (82nd) and Diaby (87th).
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