Bayer Leverkusen march on in UEFA Europa League with victory against Ferencvaros
Bayer Leverkusen are into Friday’s draw for the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after second-leg goals from Moussa Diaby and Amine Adli helped the Bundesliga side complete their last-16 task against Ferencvaros.
The visitors went into Thursday’s return leg in Budapest – host city for this season’s tournament final – boasting a healthy 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Kerem Demirbay and Edmond Tapsoba in the corresponding fixture at the BayArena a week prior. That result would have paired perfectly with Xabi Alonso’s penchant to send his sides out on the counter-attack, but there was little sign of that tactic in the early stages, with the visitors bursting out of the blocks to all but kill off the tie. Racing through on the right, Diaby may have been waiting for a challenge from shadowing defender Mats Knoester. When it failed to arrive, Bayer’s electric attacker sprinted all the way into the opposition box before sliding a slick finish in to drop the Puskas Arena into a stunned silence. Lukas Hradecky saved brilliantly from Marquinhos’s close range shot as the hosts rallied, while Adama Traore’s deflected effort smacked the crossbar as Leverkusen momentarily wobbled.
The away side were in fine spirits in the Hungarian capital having posted four wins in their previous five games. That morale was on display at the start of the second half, when the visiting team toyed with their opponents. Mitchel Bakker almost doubled Bayer’s lead with a shot that was deflected wide. Jeremie Frimpong then had a goal ruled out offside before Diaby rolled an effort against the foot of the post. Ferencvaros battled valiantly as they sought to offer their loyal fans something to cheer. However, it was the Bundesliga team who would be celebrating once again before the end with substitute Adli latching onto Diaby's angled pass to complete a deadly counter-thrust. Progress to the Europa League quarters secured, Leverkusen must now quickly turn their attentions to Sunday's behemoth domestic fixture against Bayern Munich.
Diaby - who has eight goals and four assists in the Bundesliga this season - scored his second in the Europa League.
Adli brought his tally for the current campaign up to three with his first goal in European competition in 2022/23.
Die Werkself now have seven goals in their past three European away matches against Atletico Madrid, Monaco and Ferencvaros.
Ferencvaros have lost their last three Europa League games without scoring a goal.
Leverkusen have taken the sting out of this second leg and both teams look like they are settling for their respective fates here. Might we see another goal before the end?
No way through
Gojak sees a shot deflect up int the arms of Hradecky, who points his teammates forward before hoofing one long.
Off the post!
Diaby slides one of those trademark efforts along the floor towards the near post, which the ball clanks off before spinning away from danger.
Still they come
Leverkusen are toying a little with their opponents. Azmoun and Bakker exchange passes various times inside the Ferencvaros box. The ball is laid back for Diaby, whose shot is deflected over. From the resulting corner, Azmoun is denied on the line by a super Dibusz save.
Frimpong has the ball in the net but offside has been called. The ref awaits VAR confirmation of the decision, which is given. No goal.
Diaby is through on the right and he slips a pass left for Bakker, who should probably score here. Bakker hesitates slightly, inviting the challenge and his close-range effort is deflected wide.
Bayer in the mood
Leverkusen look keen to start this second half in the same fashion they did the first: on the attack.
The second half is go. So, can the hosts mount some sort of fightback here or are Leverkusen set to build on this 3-0 aggregate lead?
Bayer enjoyed the perfect start at the Puskas Arena with Moussa Diaby waltzing through on the right before striking home for 1-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate. Ferencvaros came back into the fight and went close when hitting the crossbar later in the half. As it stands, the Bundesliga are on course for the quarter finals.
Bakker flashes one across the face of goal and it's deflected straight to Wirtz, who controls before side-footing at the target. Dibusz dives and makes a solid one-handed save. A short time later, Diaby skies one when perfectly placed on the left.
Off the bar!
Ferencvaros go mightily close to levelling this one up on the night. Traore took no time before striking firmly at goal and looked on in agony as the ball was deflected up onto the crossbar.
B04 on the attack
Azmoun, Wirtz, Diaby ... they're queuing up inside the Ferencvaros area hoping for a sight of goal. Diaby eventually has it and sees his snapshot parried out by Dibusz.
Another long-distance shot for the home side and another that misses the target, Mmaee with his side's latest effort.
Diaby continues to shine
Moussa Diaby has taken his goals tally for the current campaign to 12 in all competitions in Budapest this evening.
Bakker gets down the left and suddenly he's away after Wingo pulls up with what looks like a hamstring injury. The subsequent cross is blocked out by Dibusz and that's a huge let off for Ferncvaros.
Hosts have a pop
Civic tries with a low drive from distance but the ball flies narrowly wide of the upright.
That goal has brought a stunned silence to the Puskas Arena, which had previously been buzzing with noise. The Bundesliga side are well in command at 3-0 up on aggregate.
What. A. Start. B04 are up and running already in Budapest. Diaby was allowed to race through on the right and with no challenge incoming, the Leverkusen attacker made it all the way into the home box before sliding a neat finish past the Ferencvaros keeper.
The ball is rolling on this Europa League, Round of 16, second leg tie in Budapest. Can Leverkusen reach the tournament's last eight? We're soon to find out.
Teams out !
We've had the Europa League anthem and the handshakes. We're all set for kick off.
A packed Puskas Arena in Budapest is rocking right now as we await the appearance of both teams. Not long to go now ...
Wirtz magic ahead?
He recently returned from a long-term injury and has gradually been getting back to his best. Fully rested at the weekend, Florian Wirtz is raring to go at the Puskas Arena shortly and we might very well be in for a special showing from Leverkusen's attacking pearl.
Leverkusen team news
The Leverkusen boss has Exequiel Palacios and Robert Andrich back from a one-game European suspension and both slot straight into the visitors' side. Florian Wirtz is also back having sat out the weekend victory against Werder while Sardar Azmoun - who came on late at the weekend - is in from the off here. Patrik Schick misses out with a groin issue.
Bayer boss Xabi Alonso has been speaking ahead of this evening's game: "After the game in Bremen [at the weekend], we only had three days to prepare. The mood and energy in the team is good. We expect an intense match against a very good team and are ready for the challenge."
Team in form
B04 are unbeaten in their last five games, winning four, and posted one more morale-boosting victory last weekend. A 3-2 triumph away to Werder Bremen came courtesy of goals from Adam Hlozek, Jeremie Frimpong and Mitchel Bakker and brought Leverkusen within six points of the Bundesliga's European places.
Tale of the tape
Leverkusen go into tonight's return leg with a healthy 2-0 lead. Kerem Demirbay and Edmond Tapsoba both hit the target at the BayArena last week, meaning Xabi Alonso's men will likely employ their preferred counter-attacking style at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, the host city of this season's Europa League final.
Here we go!
Welcome one and all to our coverage of tonight's Europa League, Round of 16, second leg decider between the runaway Hungarian league leaders Ferencvaros and the Bundesliga's own Bayer Leverkusen!
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Kerem Demirbay and Edmond Tapsoba were on target as Bayer Leverkusen recorded a 2-0 win over Ferencvaros in their UEFA Europa League last-16 first leg at the BayArena.
Leverkusen had overturned a first-leg deficit to down Monaco on penalties in the play-off round, but it was visiting Ferencvaros who had to chase the game in Germany. Bayer took the lead inside 10 minutes when Demirbay found the top corner after Piero Hincapie's initial effort following a mistake by goalkeeper Denes Dibusz had been blocked. Kristoffer Zachariassen fired against the crossbar for the Hungarians as Xabi Alonso's side went in at the break with their 1-0 advantage intact.
Leverkusen largely kept Ferencvaros at arm's length in the second half, with Eldar Civic failing to find the target with a speculative long-range effort. Moussa Diaby went close to doubling Die Werkself's lead when he latched onto Florian Wirtz's cute pass into the box, but the Frenchman dragged his effort wide from a tight angle. Clear-cut chances were otherwise at a premium, until Tapsoba reacted first to substitute Adam Hlozek's free-kick against the crossbar to give Bayer daylight in the tie.