The Werkself needed time to warm up before getting into the game. But the Black and Reds took the lead on 16 minutes: A perfectly executed corner from Florian Wirtz was headed home by Robert Andrich to make it 1-0. Bayer 04 remained on top and had several promising chances but lacked the ability to finish or the necessary luck to put the ball in the back of the net. At the other end, Celtic gained a flattering equaliser when Josip Juranovic scored from the penalty spot. The second shot on Lukas Hradecky's goal saw the Scots take the lead – Jota fired a powerful shot into the bottom left corner (56'). However, the team under head coach Gerardo Seoane demonstrated outstanding morale and turned the deficit into a victory: First, Andrich levelled at 2-2 (82') with an assist from Nadiem Amiri and then Moussa Diaby got the crowd at the BayArena on their feet with a volley to make it 3-2 – a magical night of European football in Leverkusen and an emotional rollercoaster. HERE is the match report.
"It wasn't all perfect but we fought back well in the end and showed great morale," said Hradecky on Bayer 04 TV after the final whistle. The Werkself captain also shared special praise for substitutes Nadiem Amiri, Daley Sinkgraven and Edmond Tapsoba: "They got straight into the game and saved us in the end." Midfielder Andrich analysed the comeback from being 2-1 down as follows: "A short moment," he said, "was needed by us but then we regained control. We had to remain patient but then earned our just reward in the end."
The coach was also happy about a "deserved win" and he paid his team a compliment at the post-match press conference. "To qualify for the next round with one game to play is not a given," declared the 43-year-old before adding: "Against Celtic, we improved in many areas in comparison to the last Bundesliga match – defended better, were more compact, more structured and attacking with the ball. That produced lots of chances." Like Hradecky, the Swiss coach praised the performance of the substitutes: "They gave the team another boost."
First with his head and then with his foot: Robert Andrich secured a double against Celtic and naturally went on to be the key player on the pitch. The Bayer 04 fans took a similar view with a total of 94% voting the 27-year-old as Man of the Match. "I think I've got a really good nose for situations at the moment," said Andrich who scored his second and third Europa League goals as well as netting his first brace as a professional player. "I like playing my type of football to help the team. The fact that happened with goals makes me even happier."
It is equally worth highlighting the performance against the Florian Wirtz, who – as so often this season – created a lot of goalscoring opportunities and he was directly involved in two goals: First, the 18-year-old found Andrich for the opening goal and then he provided an assist for Moussa Diaby to net the winner at 3-2. The number 27 was also involved with the leveller at 2-2 with a cross to Nadiem Amiri.
Bayer 04 have won Group G with a game to play thanks to the three points against Celtic – Real Betis can draw level on points but Leverkusen come out on top in a direct comparison with the Andalusians. That also means: The Werkself, who are now unbeaten in four games (three wins, one draw), are through to the Round of 16 in the Europa League ahead of the final match against Ferencvaros (Thursday, 9 December). The team under coach Gerardo Seoane also extended an historic club record: the Black and Reds have not lost any of 15 home games in Europa League group stage matches (12 wins, 3 draws). No other team in the history of this competition have played at home as often as Bayer 04 without losing at least one game. Impressive!
'Andrich brace and Diaby put Bayer through', is the headline in the BILD-Zeitung and the game against Celtic is compared with a "rollercoaster ride." The Kölnische Rundschau praises the matchwinner. Andrich, according to the newspaper, is now "indispensable for Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The 27-year-old new signing from Union Berlin but the Werkself on course for a 3-2 home win on Thursday night with his two goals." Andrich earned top marks from the Rheinische Post. "Great, energetic run for his header to make it 1-0 from a corner from Wirtz – already his third goal at this point in time," praises the RP.
The kicker also highlights the performance of the midfielder – and underlines the words of the coach: "Coach Gerardo Seoane sang the praises of Andrich for his 'certain robust approach and strength in challenges in midfield' as well as his 'intelligence and technique'. But better: 'Everything he does hits the spot.'"
The final group match in the Europa League for the Werkself is on Thursday, 9 December (kick-off: 21.00 CET) with an away game at Ferencvaros. But the Black and Reds have another Bundesliga game first. Lukas Hradecky and Co. are away to RB Leipzig on Sunday, 28 November – albeit without a crowd. Due to the worsening coronavirus situation in Saxony, the game at the Red Bull Arena will be the first match behind closed doors for the Seoane team in the current campaign. The match kicks off at 17.30 CET. Leverkusen then have a couple of days off before Bundesliga matchday 14 (Saturday, 4 December, kick-off: 15.30 CET) with the next home game against newly promoted SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
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