Freitag, 10. Mai 2024

Drama, goals and a little bit of luck: Leverkusen's road to Dublin

In the epic stoppage-time operetta that only Bayer Leverkusen can stage, the Werkself fought their way into the Europa League final with a nerve-wracking 2:2 draw against AS Roma. What a performance in the BayArena! Thanks to a mixture of unwavering will, an own goal by the Romans and Josip Stanisic's last-second heroics, the dream of the treble lives on. Dublin, here we come!

The starting position before the second leg was promising: after the 2:0 win in the first leg, Bayer were the clear favourites. But football wouldn't be football if everything went according to plan. The Romans, led by Romelu Lukaku, set the tone early on and forced Bayer into action. Despite a number of chances in the first half, Leverkusen went into the break 1-0 down thanks to a Leandro Paredes penalty.

The second half developed into a thriller. Paredes converted another penalty and suddenly the comfortable lead from the first leg was gone. But Bayer remained unfazed and responded with the precision of Swiss clockwork. A curious scene led to the equaliser: a corner from Grimaldo was deflected into his own net by the unfortunate Gianluca Mancini. The equaliser in stoppage time was the icing on the cake: Josip Stanisic scored after an assist from Granit Xhaka and sent the BayArena shaking.

The joy after the final whistle was immeasurable. Granit Xhaka thanked the fans for their tireless support, while last-minute hero Stanisic described the moment as ‘indescribable’. Coach Xabi Alonso was proud of his team: ‘I saw in the boys’ eyes that they believed they could turn this game around. Now we have the big goal of winning the three titles.’

With this draw, Bayer 04 set a new European record: 49 consecutive competitive matches without defeat! This impressive run broke the previous record set by Benfica Lisbon in the 1963/64 season, meaning that ‘Last-Minute-Kusen’ remain invincible and are fully motivated going into the final against Atalanta Bergamo.

Before heading to Dublin, there is another highlight on the programme: the Bundesliga away match at VfL Bochum. A place where Bayer suffered their last defeat last season. A good omen? We shall see! After that, the home game against FC Augsburg awaits, where the Werkself will finally receive the championship trophy.

Bayer Leverkusen's journey this season has been nothing short of extraordinary. With a mixture of talent, fighting spirit and a bit of luck, the team has made history. Dublin awaits us, and the fans can dream - of the treble and more.

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