Coach Seoane made four changes to his team from the 1-0 win over Bochum in the Bundesliga. Odilon Kossounou, Piero Hincapie, Exequiel Palacios and Paulinho all started in place of Edmond Tapsoba, Daley Sinkgraven, Nadiem Amiri (all on the bench) and Kerem Demirbay (suspended).
Leverkusen needed around 15 minutes to get going before settling into the game. That came down to the visitors’ compact formation, with Diaby & Co. allowed very little space. It meant a set piece was needed to break the deadlock, with Florian Wirtz’s perfect corner being met by the head of Andrich in the six-yard box and put past Joe Hart on 16 minutes.
It was a thoroughly deserved lead, and Seoane’s side remained the dominant team after that. With great support from the north stand, Bayer 04 pushed Celtic back and were particularly creative down the right. However, it just lacked the final ball and a touch of luck to get another goal.
Yet the visitors were awarded a penalty after a VAR review following Lukas Hradecky’s collision with Kyogo Furuhashi at a cross. Referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos originally waved play on before changing his mind after viewing the scene again. Josip Juranovic converted from 12 yards to level things with five minutes to go in the first half – the Scottish side’s first shot on target. Leverkusen were unlucky again moments later when Diaby took advantage of a mistake at the back but only struck the frame of the goal with his volley. Wirtz then put his rebound against the outside of the post.
Bayer 04 came out with renewed attacking intent in the second half and only just missed out on a second goal. Wirtz played a great through ball into the path of Diaby, but he came up short one-on-one against Hart. Amine Adli was then also denied by the goalkeeper. The Scots were woken up by those chances as Ange Postecoglou’s side took the lead almost immediately afterwards. Furuhashi squared in the box to Jota, who finished into the far corner.
Celtic started to drop further back into their own half after that. The Werkself had more possession and were pushing for an equaliser. The team simply lacked a spark in the final third against the deep-sitting Scots. The best opportunity came from Adli, but Hart got his feet in the way with 10 minutes remaining.
However, Bayer 04 did level things up two minutes later. Wirtz crossed from the right corner of the box to substitute Amiri, who knocked the ball down for Andrich to power home first time.
It would become a magical European night at the BayArena, as Diaby had the place rocking only five minutes later. Wirtz was again at the heart of things, cutting back for the Frenchman to volley home from the edge of the box and make it 3-2. Leverkusen defended with everything they had into the six minutes of added time to see out a deserved home win.
It means Bayer 04 have guaranteed first place in Group G with a game to spare and will go straight into the round of 16 in the Europa League. Hradecky & Co. are next in action on Sunday, 28 November, away at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga (17:30 CET).
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Tah, Kossounou, Hincapie (Sinkgraven 75') – Andrich, Palacios – Diaby, Wirtz (Tapsoba 89'), Paulinho (Amiri 75') – Adli
Celtic: Hart – Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Welsh, Juranovic – McGregor, Bitton (McCarthy 76'), Turnbull – Forrest (Abada 72'), Furuhashi (Ajeti 76'), Jota (Johnston 72')
Goals: 1-0 Andrich (16'), 1-1 Juranovic (pen, 40'), 1-2 Jota (56'), 2-2 Andrich (82'), 3-2 Diaby (87')
Yellow cards: Palacios, Hradecky – Carter-Vickers
Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos (Greece)
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