10.03.2022Europa League

Werkself need win in second leg after 3-2 defeat in Bergamo

Bayer 04 lost 3-2 away to Atalanta in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16. Charles Aránguiz opened the scoring for the Werkself (11') but the Italian team turned the game round with goals from Ruslan Malinovskyi (23') and Luis Muriel (25'), who scored a third just after the restart (49'). Moussa Diaby's goal to make it 3-2 (63') gives Leverkusen every chance for the return match on 17 March (kick-off: 18.45 CET).

"It was a rough ride, a rollercoaster of emotions. We started well and took the lead but Atalanta remained tough and aggressive. After we went 3-1 down, we had to be grateful that Lukas Hradecky pulled off some great saves to prevent us conceding more goals," said coach Gerardo Seoane and he added: "It's wide open for the second leg, it will be a tight affair."

There were two changes to the Bayer 04 line-up compared with last Saturday's 1-1 draw away to Bayern Munich. Kerem Demirbay served the last part of his three-match ban following his sending-off in the group game against Real Betis and he was replaced in holding midfield by Exequiel Palacios. Head coach Gerardo Seoane opted to play a true number nine from the start. Piero Hincapie had to make way for Lucas Alario. In addition to Demirbay, Leverkusen again had to manage without the injured Patrik Schick, Karim Bellarabi, Robert Andrich and Andrey Lunev. Julian Baumgartlinger, who was back in the squad for the game in Munich for the first time since his cruciate injury in August of last year, is not in the Europa League squad.

Aránguiz hits the post and then scores

An evenly balanced duel was expected in the meeting of two very attacking teams – and the match at the Gewiss Stadium took off straight from the kick-off. The Werkself, making appearance number 50 in the Europa League, were immediately under pressure from the hosts. The first effort from Malinovskyi from 20 yards out did not cause Lukas Hradecky any problems (2'). The first opportunity for Leverkusen was of a different order: Charles Aránguiz hit a free kick towards the top corner but the ball bounced off the inside of the post and back into play (9'). But the Chile international immediately followed that up – and this time he was more accurate with his effort. Via Moussa Diaby and Exequiel Palacios the ball ended up with Florian Wirtz, and he laid it off for Aránguiz who struck a low shot in at the near post – 1-0 (11').


double whammy from atalanta

The Italians looked impressed and handed over the initiative to the lively Werkself. Bayer 04 were dominant as they moved the ball and opposition around the pitch. Hradecky easily saved a shot from Rafael Toloi (20'). But then Atalanta provided clear evidence of their class: Malinovskyi initiated an attack down the left flank and after a one-two with Muriel he placed a left-foot shot into the back of the net – 1-1 (23'), a great goal from the Ukrainian. And the hosts needed less than two minutes to add the next goal. After Bayer 04 lost the ball in build-up play everything went lightning fast as the Werkself were unable to intervene in defence and Muriel hit his shot across Hradecky into the far corner to make it 2-1 (25'). Atalanta were clinical in turning the game around.

It was an exciting exchange full of pace and intensive challenges. Muriel escaped the attentions of Jonathan Tah on the left wing and he shot from a tight angle but Hradecky closed his legs at the right time at the near post (39'). And the Finn punched away a shot from Teun Koopmeiners (42') and he also reacted impressively to deny the rapid Davide Zappacosta (44'). Bayer 04 were clearly on top in the first 20 minutes but Atalanta took control after the double strike and were ahead at half-time.


lightning restart by italians

Atalanta exerted intense pressure at the start of the second half and pushed the visitors back. With success: When Bayer 04 were clearly too passive in defence, Muriel again had much too much space and he found the back of the net from the edge of the box for his second goal to make it 3-1 (49'). The Colombian just missed out on a hat-trick when Hradecky saved his shot with his foot at the near post (58'). And a diagonal shot from Hans Hateboer on the hour mark was punched away by Hradecky. It was all Atalanta during this stage of the game with Bayer 04 left chasing. Gerardo Seoane reacted by bringing on Odilon Kossounou for Alario and he switched to a back three in defence (61').

Diaby puts Bayer 04 back on track

Hradecky kept his team in the game and then Bayer 04 hit back: Moussa Diaby cut into the penalty area from the right and hit a low shot into the corner of the net to make it 3-2 (63'). It was goal number 04 in the seventh Europa League of the season for the Frenchman. The Werkself then made a double substitution with Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Paulinho coming on for Jeremie Frimpong and Amine Adli (80’). Sardar Azmoun replaced Wirtz shortly after that (85’). Substitute Aleksey Miranchuk just missed the target with a header in the box (89'). A counter-attack involving Diaby ended with Paulinho putting a shot over the top (90') – he could have done better. The game ended 3-2 – a result that promises maximum excitement for the return game at the BayArena in a week.

The next game for Bayer 04 is in the Bundesliga on Sunday 13 March with the derby against FC Köln. The game at the BayArena kicks off at 15.30 CET.

Match stats:

Atalanta: Musso – Toloi, Demiral, Djimsiti (Palomino 69’) – Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Zappacosta (Maehle 77’) – Koopmeiners – Malinovskyi (Boga 69’), Muriel (Miranchuk 77’)

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong (Fosu-Mensah 80’), Tah, Tapsoba, Bakker – Aránguiz, Palacios – Diaby, Wirtz (Azmoun 85’), Adli (Paulinho 80’) – Alario (Kossounou 61’)

Goals: 0-1 Aránguiz (11’), 1-1 Malinovskyi (23’), 2-1 Muriel (25’), 3-1 Muriel (49’), 3-2 Diaby (63’)

Referee: Jovanovic (Serbia)

Booked: Toloi – Bakker, Wirtz

Attendance: 14,600



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