MWith an impressive performance, Bayer Leverkusen moved into the round of 16 of the Europa League and positioned themselves as one of the favorites. Leverkusen won 3: 1 (1: 0) on last night at last year’s Champions League quarter-finalist FC Porto, after the 2-1 in the second round first leg a week ago, the progress was never seriously in danger. Lucas Alario (11th), 32-million-man Kerem Demirbay (51st) with his first goal in the 26th competitive game for Bayer and the outstanding international Kai Havertz (57th) scored the goals for Bayer’s ninth win from their last ten competitive matches. Moussa Marega scored for Porto (66.), his team-mate Tiquinho Soares saw the red card after an attack (85.).
After beating the Portuguese, who are considered one of the strongest teams in the competition, Bayer can slowly dream of repeating their triumph in the 1988 UEFA Cup. The opponent for the round of 16 on March 12 and 19 will be drawn on Friday. Bayer also got off to a good start in a pioneering week with the Bundesliga top game on Sunday at RB Leipzig and the cup quarter-finals against Union Berlin next Wednesday.
Postage awake too late
The Leverkusen, who had failed in the intermediate round at FK Krasnodar, had to survive a shaky first ten minutes – and then wait a long time, as in the first leg. Alario’s goal after deliberate pass from Havertz was thoroughly checked by the video assistant before the Bayer pros were allowed to cheer. Already a week ago, the technology had caused confusion several times, including the lead hit by Alario. The hosts, who now needed two goals for extra time, appeared only briefly struck after the Bayer goal. The Portuguese vice champion’s attempts to attack, sometimes more or less quickly, mostly came from the right side. As in the first leg, Bosz relied on a triple chain, of the five players spared in the 2-0 win over FC Augsburg, Lars Bender, Daley Sinkgraven and Demirbay had returned to the starting line-up. Charles Aranguiz (cold) and Volland (syndesmoseriss) were missing.
Leverkusen held up well against the sometimes hard-hitting postage professionals. The offensive for Alario, Havertz and Leon Bailey without striker Volland, who will probably be out for the rest of the season, caused only a few dangers until the break. Demirbay scored after but after Havertz submission shortly after the change of page with a rich left shot. Havertz made the preliminary decision based on Diaby. From the 29th minute, Porto had to do without Luis Díaz, who was injured and replaced, on the offensive. Shoya Nakajima came for the scorer from the first leg. Porto increased during the second half, but Marega’s head-to-head goal was of no value.