The draw is not enough
Bayer Leverkusen’s dream of triumphing in the Europa League was shattered by the bulwark of Rome’s defense by master tactician José Mourinho. In the second leg of the semi-finals, the Bundesliga team ran with passion and courage, but also without success, and were eliminated by a 0-0 draw against AS Roma. Leverkusen lost the first leg 0-1 last week.
On the 35th anniversary of the club’s greatest UEFA Cup success, Bayer missed their third European Cup final after 1988 and 2002. Roma with Mourinho, on the other hand, saw their second European final in a row . Last season, the team won the Conference League title. The Portuguese coach could now become the sole record holder in terms of European Cup wins. So far, he tops the table with five titles in the various competitions, alongside former Bayern coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
Leverkusen captain and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky announced a « bigger cauldron of witches » ahead of the game than in Rome the previous week. And Bayer fans have gone to great lengths to support this audacious thesis. Several thousand greeted the team bus at 7:20 p.m. at the stadium entrance in red jerseys and with many Bengalos. Before the match, there was a big choreography. And during the match, the fans basically sang and created an impressive atmosphere worthy of a semi-final.
And the team struggled to deliver the first goal they were hoping for. The first attempts by Kerem Demirbay (8th) and Moussa Diaby (9th) were rather innocuous, but then Diaby touched the bar from a tight angle after a nice pass from Florian Wirtz (12th). Alonso lived the game intensively on the sidelines, he ran up and down, led wildly and loudly. By contrast, Mourinho showed demonstrative composure a few yards to the left, mostly with his hands in his pockets, he only moved a few yards left and right.
At the break, 12:1 shots on goal and 74% possession of the ball were the statistical witnesses of Leverkusen’s dominance. But aside from Diaby’s crossbar, most chances came from long-range shots, which sometimes posed a little more and sometimes less danger. What caused the greatest excitement was a scene in the 37th minute when Roma defender Bryan Cristante was the last man to pull Sardar Azmoun’s arm. All of Leverkusen demanded a red card, but referee Slavko Vincic of Slovenia allowed play to continue.
Immediately after the break, Bayer fans interrupted the game for almost two minutes with a pyrotechnic display due to smoke. Mourinho made another defensive change at half-time. But above all, the guests succeeded with increasing success in interrupting the course of the game with little nods. And as time went on, Leverkusen became more and more hectic. Azmoun (81st) missed another big chance.
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