Bayer Leverkusen is in the semi-finals of the Europa League. In the second leg of the quarter-finals at Union Saint-Gilloise, the Bundesliga club put on a convincing performance and won 4-1 (2-0) after the 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Moussa Diaby (2nd), Mitchel Bakker (37th), Jeremie Frimpong (60th) and Adam Hlozek (79th) scored the goals for the Bundesliga club, which is the last German team still represented in the European Cup, in Anderlecht on Thursday evening. Casper Terho (65th) had meanwhile shortened for the hosts. Saint-Gilloise, currently second in the Belgian league, knocked Union Berlin out of the competition in the round of 16.
Bayer now against the Roma
In the Europa League semi-finals, Leverkusen will meet AS Roma, who defeated Feyenoord Rotterdam. The first leg will take place in Rome on May 11th and the second leg in Leverkusen on May 18th.
“The Belgians never gave up and we swam pretty hard to make it 3-1”Robert Andrich admitted frankly on RTL, “but with the 4:1 we put the lid on it.”
“It was fun today“Said playmaker Florian Wirtz. “It was almost clear pretty early on that we would make it through. That took the pressure off a bit. We’re just happy to have made it through.“
Wirtz back in the starting XI
Leverkusen had to do without Argentinian world champion Exequiel Palacios (hamstring injury), who was replaced by Nadiem Amiri in midfield. In addition, after the 0-0 draw at VfL Wolfsburg, Jonathan Tah, Bakker and Wirtz replaced Odilon Kossounou, Kerem Demirbay and Sardar Azmoun in the starting XI.
The guests took the lead after just 69 seconds. Under pressure from Hlozek and Wirtz, the ball landed after an unfortunate attempt by Senne Lynen to clear Diaby (2nd), who passed Saint-Gilloise keeper Anthony Moris on the left and slotted in from an acute angle.
Leverkusen defended disciplined and attacked the Belgians. On the other side Bayer managed again and again to become a goal threat with fast advances. After a low cross from left-back Bakker, Hlozek (22′) on the first post and then Diaby just missed the next goal for Leverkusen.
Leverkusen ice cold, Bakker follows suit
Bayer managed this a quarter of an hour later with a remarkable move. After a one-two with Wirtz in the center circle, Diaby drove the ball forward and passed it to Hlozek on the right. The Czech hit a butter-soft cross to Bakker (37′), who increased the lead to 2-0 with a direct acceptance.
Leverkusen’s Mitchel Bakker (centre) celebrates the 2-0 with his teammates
Saint-Gilloise had his first notable opportunity just before half-time. A free-kick from Teddy Teuma landed on the head of Koki Machida (43′), who missed the Bayer goal by about a meter.
Frimpong raises after a bad pass from the goalkeeper
Saint-Gilloise started the second half with great pressure, but the Belgians lacked precision. In the 60th minute, Bakker ran at full speed towards Union goalkeeper Moris, who under pressure played a bad pass into the feet of Leverkusen’s Frimpong (60th). He easily made it 3-0 for Bayer from the inside right.
But the hosts didn’t give up and responded shortly afterwards. After a cross from Loic Lapoussin from the left into the backcourt, Terho (65′) took the ball and put it into the goal on the right. The Belgians kept up the pressure, Victor Boniface (67′) and Lynen (75′) missed good chances.
Hlozek puts the lid on
Finally, Leverkusen made the decision. The very strong Bakker served Diaby in the penalty area, who was denied by Moris – but Hlozek (79th) sunk the follow-up shot into the goal.
Leverkusen’s Adam Hlozek gives both thumbs up in the game against Union Saint-Gilloise.
Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso raised the “seriousness” of his team. “We hardly made any mistakes. We controlled the small details well. That can be a key“, so Alonso.
Bayer continue in the Bundesliga on Sunday (5.30 p.m.) with a home game against RB Leipzig.