Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 AS Roma (May 9, 2024) Game Analysis

After yet another stoppage-time equalizer, the “ESPN FC” crew try to get their heads around Bayer Leverkusen’s wild season so far.

Bayer Leverkusen staged a stunning late comeback to move into the Europa League final with a 2-2 draw at home against AS Roma on Thursday as they won 4-2 on aggregate and set the longest unbeaten run in all competitions including European matches.

Bundesliga champions Leverkusen, who have also reached this month’s German Cup final as they chase a treble, played their 49th match without defeat to surpass Benfica’s record set from 1963-65, but they had to battle for the second-leg draw.

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Xabi Alonso’s side, who have 40 wins in their unbeaten run, will face Italian side Atalanta in the May 22 final in Dublin.

It will be a third European final for Leverkusen, who won their only continental title when they lifted the UEFA Cup in 1988 and lost in the 2002 Champions League showpiece.

“For the mentality we showed again today against a big team to come back like this and go through to the final. We are more than happy today,” said Leverkusen captain Granit Xhaka. “You see the desire from the team, we didn’t want to slow down. We wanted to score the next goal to keep going unbeaten, 49 times now. We are proud of it.

“Roma is a team that has a lot of experience and they do things very well but I think over two games the better team has gone to the final.”

Bayer Leverkusen players celebrate after scoring a goal against Roma in the Europa League. Getty Images

Roma knew they had a mountain to climb after losing the first leg 2-0 at home, but they remained composed in an evenly contested match in which Leverkusen gradually seized control.

Leverkusen’s Exequiel Palacios struck the post just before half-time, with the rebound deflecting off Roma goalkeeper Mile Svilar’s back, but Evan Ndicka cleared the danger.

Svilar then made another acrobatic save just before the break, denying Amine Adli and then smothering the rebound.

Despite Leverkusen’s pressure, Roma took the lead with a penalty from Leandro Paredes just before half-time after Jonathan Tah fouled Sardar Azmoun. Paredes scored with another spot kick in the 66th minute after Adam Hlozek handled the ball in the area.

With eight minutes remaining, a Leverkusen corner confused the visiting defence, including the until then excellent Svilar, leading to defender Gianluca Mancini inadvertently deflecting the ball into his own net at the far post.

Late substitute Joseph Stanisic then secured Leverkusen’s place in the record books deep into stoppage time with the equaliser after a skilful move into the box to delight the ecstatic home fans and leave battling Roma distraught.

“It was a heroic performance but Leverkusen are a really strong team,” Roma boss Daniele De Rossi told Sky Sports Italia. “I thought our performances in both legs were good. We didn’t have enough shots on goal and sometimes that can make the difference, but the players were incredible.”

The late goal by Leverkusen was the club’s 8th game-tying strike in the final five minutes this season, twice as many as any other team in Europe’s top-5 leagues in all competitions.

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