Bayer Leverkusen books round of 16 ticket at AS Monaco

After the historic progress and the impressively banned penalty kick at the best moment, Bayer Leverkusen was pure joy. After what was probably the most emotional game of his still young coaching career, coach Xabi Alonso hugged everyone he could get hold of and blew air kisses in the direction of the stands. His players ran into the curve and were extensively celebrated by their 800 fans.

Alonso’s team won 5: 3 (3: 2, 2: 1) on penalties at AS Monaco, third in the French league, and despite the 2: 3 in their own stadium a week ago, they reached the round of 16 of the Europa League.

In the midst of a disappointing season, the Bundesliga soccer club has set an example internationally and has progressed for the first time in its 30th European Cup participation despite a home defeat. National player Florian Wirtz used Bayern’s loanee Nübel to make it 1-0 in the 13th minute, making him the youngest player to score seven goals in the Europa League at the age of 19. After a quick equalizer from a penalty kick by Monaco captain Wissam Ben Yedder (19′), Bayer hit back even faster (21′) through Argentinian world champion Exequiel Palacios.

The strong Frenchman Amine Adli secured the supposed progress (56th), before Breel Embolo (84th) marked the 2: 3 for Monaco and forced the extra time. After the goalless 30 minutes, Moussa Diaby converted the decisive penalty.

“It’s definitely very nice to be able to celebrate with everyone again,” said Wirtz on the TV channel RTL+ after a first small party with the fans. He expected them to win. “But it’s still very nice to let the emotions out. It wasn’t an easy game, so the atmosphere is really good.” Despite missing seven out of eight penalties, he had few concerns. “I didn’t expect that we’d make five. But in the last few weeks it’s been practiced a few times in training. That probably paid off,” said the youngster.

Leverkusen went one round further despite home defeat

The game started intensely. Initially, however, there was no sign of the animosity between the two teams after the mass scuffle after the first leg and the corresponding comments afterwards. Both acted in a controlled and disciplined manner. The guests from Leverkusen showed from the start that they wanted to play for the win they needed, but were almost caught cold when Ben Yedder shot just wide from the turn (4′).

Then Bayer became more purposeful. When Adli shot, Nübel reacted splendidly. A few seconds later he gave Bayer the 1-0 lead, which equalized the deficit from the first leg. A sharp cross from Jeremie Frimpong slipped under his stomach and Wirtz pushed the ball from three meters into the empty goal.

As so often this season, Bayer gave such happy circumstances back. Edmond Tapsoba fouled Eliesse Ben Seghir in the box and Ben Yedder converted the spot kick safely. But this time Leverkusen fought back with a sharp left-footed shot from Palacios, against which Nübel was powerless. In the 34th minute against Adam Hlozek he made a strong save again.

The Bundesliga side survived Monegasque’s first attack swing after the break – and then immediately followed up with Adli’s header after a nice cross from Wirtz. Now Monaco had to come. AS quickly did so with a crossbar hit by Ben Yedder (59′), but then Leverkusen took control again. Mitchel Bakker even scored what was supposed to be 1:4, but was just offside (63′). Six minutes before the end, however, former Mönchengladbacher Embolo scored and ensured the extra time.


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