Bayer Leverkusen advanced to the UEFA Europa League final with their unbeaten record intact. - © Alex Grimm
Bayer Leverkusen advanced to the UEFA Europa League final with their unbeaten record intact. - © Alex Grimm

Bayer Leverkusen reach UEFA Europa League final and set new unbeaten record after Roma scare


Bayer Leverkusen are through to the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League final and unbeaten in a European record 49 competitive games, after a now trademark late comeback secured a 2-2 draw on the night and 4-2 aggregate win over Roma.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Roma (4-2 on agg.)
Goals: 0-1
Paredes (pen. 43'), 0-2 Paredes (pen. 66'), 1-2 Mancini (o.g. 83'), 2-2 Stanišić 90'+7 (assist: Xhaka)

Leading 2-0 from the first leg in Rome, Leverkusen controlled the first half for long periods. Matěj Kovář had to be alert to a Luca Pellegrini header in a rare moment of defensive concern, but otherwise the Bundesliga champions asked nearly all the questions. Exequiel Palacios and Adam Hložek tested Mile Svilar with shots from distance, before the woodwork denied Palacios with 30 minutes gone. Jeremie Frimpong made the visiting goalkeeper work once more with a trademark inside run and shot, while Jonas Hofmann dragged wide when well placed in the area. It looked like being only a matter of time before the net would bulge as Svilar pulled off a superb double stop from Amine Adli and Hložek. The goal duly came late in the half, but at the wrong end from a Bayer perspective. After Jonathan Tah was adjudged to have brought down former teammate Sardar Azmoun, Leandro Paredes converted from the penalty spot to halve the aggregate score to 2-1.

The pendulum swung back and forth in the second half as Adli drove a shot through the legs of ex-Eintracht Frankfurt defender Evan Ndicka and agonisingly wide. Kovář thwarted Azmoun and Stephan El Shaarawy, either side of another fine piece of goalkeeping from Svilar to stop Hofmann capping a lightning counter led by Frimpong. It proved a key intervention for the Italians, who levelled the tie with 66 minutes gone. A VAR review deemed Hložek to have handled in the box, with Paredes stepping up to sink his second spot-kick of the contest. Xabi Alonso reacted by introducing Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick, but it was Lady Luck that got them back in front as an Álex Grimaldo corner went in off Gianluca Mancini. Svilar denied Frimpong and Adli, before substitute Josip Stanišić struck in the 97th minute of added time to extend Leverkusen's proud unbeaten record. Alonso's treble candidates face Atalanta in the final on 22 May, three days before locking horns with Kaiserslautern in the DFB Cup.

Watch: Leverkusen reaction to reaching UEL final

Match stats

  • Leverkusen have broken Benfica's previous 48-match unbeaten record, set between December 1963 and February 1965.
  • Bayer's equaliser was their 17th competitive goal of the season in the 90th minute or later.
  • Leverkusen are the competition's leading scorers with 31 goals.
  • Grimaldo brought up his fifth Europa League assist of the season. Only Marseille's Amine Harit and Jonathan Clauss have more.
  • Alonso's team have fired off a tournament-leading 234 goal attempts in 2023/24.
  • Die Werkself are through to their second UEFA final, having previously lost the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League to Real Madrid.


Leverkusen: Kovář - Tapsoba, Tah (c), Hincapié - Frimpong (Stanišić 90'), Xhaka, Palacios, Grimaldo (Kossounou 90') - Hofmann (Wirtz 81'), Adli - Hložek (Schick 74')
Unused subs: Hrádecký, Lomb, Andrich, Borja Iglesias, Arthur, Boniface, Tella, Puerta
Out: Mbamba (ineligible)
Coach: Xabi Alonso

Roma: Svilar - Mancini, Cristante, Ndicka - Angeliño (Smalling 81'), Paredes, Pellegrini (c) (Abraham 81'), Spinazzola - Azmoun (Bove 72'), El Shaarawy - Lukaku
Unused subs: Patrício, Karsdorp, Dybala, Diego Llorente, Sanches, Aouar, Baldanzi, Çelik, Zalewski
Out: -
Coach: Daniele De Rossi

As it happened!

2 - 2

(0 - 1)

Europa League
Semi-final, 2nd leg
Semi-final, 2nd leg BayArena

Dublin calling

Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen will play Atalanta in the UEFA Europa League final in Dublin on 22 May. And lest we forget, the Werkself have set a new record tonight, going 49 games unbeaten this season.

Full-time: Bayer 2-2 Roma (Leverkusen win 4-2 on agg.)

It's just their season. Xabi Alonso's team have done what they've been doing all term: sticking to their task until the very last second. Roma led here by two Leandro Paredes penalties until the tie entered Leverkusen time. A visiting own goal in the 83rd minute put the hosts back in front in the tie and set up a grandstand finale, in which Josip Stanišić levelled with the last kick of the second leg. Amazing.
+ 7

Would you believe it!?

Well, of course you would because this is Leverkusen! But still! What is this team? Leverkusen have drawn level at the death to ensure not only are they going to the Europa League final but they have created history by going a 49th game unbeaten! Stanišić is the last gasp hero this time, the Bayern loanee finishing perfectly after being released by Xhaka.
+ 7
Josip Stanišić
+ 4

Kossounou clears his lines

Kossounou clears with Smalling threatening for Roma. Leverkusen are so, so close to the final now.

Time added on

We'll have seven minutes tacked onto the end of this second half.

Frimpong hungry

The hosts are desperate to keep this unbeaten run going as well as reaching the final. Frimpong gets into the area and shoots, only for Svilar to block with his legs.

Goal Leverkusen !

They've only gone and scored one more late goal. Well, Roma have done it for them, with Mancini knocking into his own net following a corner to put the hosts back in front 3-2 on aggregate.
Mancini (o.g.)





Bayer change

Should Leverkusen be worried? This is the team that always scores late goals, after all. To that end, Xabi Alonso introduces Patrik Schick into the game, he of the Qarabağ late late show(s).

Nearly Adli

After Tah's shot is blocked, Adli is there on the follow up to send the ball just wide.



Bayer shout

Hofmann goes down under slight contact from Svilar but Leverkusen are never getting that. The referee waves play on.

Roma on terms

Paredes beats Kovář from the spot for a second time here and Roma are level on aggregate in this tie.




Penalty Roma

Hložek appears to make contact with the ball using his hand inside the Leverkusen box. A VAR check confirms this, and Roma have another penalty.


El Shaarawy is denied by one more Kovář save while at the other end, Frimpong feeds Hofmann who has an effort saved by Svilar.

Tension rising

As the minutes tick by, you can sense the intensity increasing in this fascinating tie. The cliché of next goal being crucial very much applies here.

Hincapie alert

Kovář can't keep hold of Azmoun's strike from distance and Hincapie steps in to clear the danger.

Almost Adli

The Morocco international gets his shot away and looks on as the ball fizzes through N'Dicka's legs and flies wide.

Possession swing

We spoke earlier of Roma having had most of the ball at one stage in the first half. That has changed here, with Leverkusen now boasting 56 per cent possession. The hosts could do with a goal to add to those numbers in order to settle any nerves here.

Grimaldo motoring

Bayer begin strongly. Grimaldo races up the flank but his cross blocked.

Away we go again

Leverkusen get the second half underway ...

Half-time: Leverkusen 0-1 Roma

Leverkusen put in a solid shift in that first half and created some decent chances. But Roma have their lifeline and lead this second leg thanks to a Leandro Paredes penalty.
+ 2

Roma threatening

The visitors have their tails up now. Azmoun and El Shaarawy have been menacing in and around the Leverkusen area in these past moments, the latter having a shot blocked.

Time added on

We'll have an extra four minutes to play in this first half.

Roma back in it

Tah fouls Azmoun inside the Bayer area and Roma are awarded a penalty. Paredes steps up and fires the Italian side into the lead from the spot. Tie very much on.




Smart Svilar saves

Roma's goalkeeper pulls off a fine double stop to deny Adli and then Hložek on the follow-up.

Hofmann has a pop

The Leverkusen No.7 drags an effort wide of the post. At the moment, it looks only a matter of time before the home side hit the front.

So far, so good

Xabi Alonso will be more than happy with his side here this evening. Leverkusen have created plenty of chances while looking largely in control of the second leg. The score remains 0-0 on the night, 2-0 to B04 on aggregate.

And again ...

Still Leverkusen come. Frimpong this time draws a save from Svilar after cutting in from the left.

Bayer04 hit the post!

Ohhhh, so, so close for Xabi Alonso's team. Xhaka passes for Palacios, who sends a low shot off the base of the upright.

Zalewski warned

He's only just come on, but Nicola Zalewski has already got himself into the referee's notebook for a foul on Jeremie Frimpong. The bookings are adding up for the visitors here.

Paredes booked

Roma's Leandro Paredes sees yellow for a foul on Palacios.

Hložek set piece

The Czech is in the thick of it again, this time firing a free kick at the target which Svilar tips over.

Spinazzola hurt

Leonardo Spinazzola has picked up a knock and will be replaced by 22-year-old Polish midfielder Nicola Zalewski.



Roma's turn

Pellegrini meets a cross from the right and heads at goal. Kovář gets down to make a solid stop.

B04 pressure

Svilar is forced into a save from a Palacios crack at goal while Hincapie shoots over shortly afterwards.

Entertaining start

Roma are ahead in the possession stats here, Daniele De Rossi's team with 59 per cent of the ball. Leverkusen do look dangerous when pushing forward, however.

As you were

Hložek has a second effort blocked in the space five minutes. Leverkusen are leading the shot count thus far. Xabi Alonso will be fine with that, as long as the scoreboard still reads 0-0.

Xhaka off target

Granit Xhaka tries a Granit Xhaka special from way out, but this one ends up in the stands.

Hložek finds space

The Czech attacker works himself some room to the right of the area but his shot is blocked.

Roma chance

Suddenly Lukaku is bursting clear onto a through pass and this looks very dangerous. Kovář just manages to get there ahead of the visiting striker and Leverkusen survive.

B04 on the front foot

The home side start brightly and win a corner. Hofmann takes, but the set-piece comes to nothing.


Away we go in this semi-final, second leg!

Europa League theme

Time now for the tournament ditty as both sets of players line up and the camera pans across some very focused faces.

Anthem time!

The home fans belt out a top rendition of 🎵 Bayer04 🎵 as the teams begin to gather inside the tunnel.

Atmosphere building

Not long to go now as the BayArena fills nicely. We're all set for an electric atmosphere inside tonight's venue, which has witnessed plenty of celebrations already this season.

Leverkusen starting XI

In the pre second-leg excitement, your blogging team left out Leverkusen's starting XI below. So here it is for your viewing pleasure: Kovář - Tapsoba, Tah (c), Hincapié - Frimpong, Xhaka, Palacios, Grimaldo - Hofmann, Adli - Hložek

Xhaka at the controls

Granit Xhaka will look to pull the strings for the hosts tonight, as he has done for most of the season for Leverkusen. It's almost impossible to choose who was Xabi Alonso's best signing this season, but the Swiss midfielder is among the main contenders.

The stage is set

We're edging ever closer to the last European game of the season at the BayArena. This place will be bouncing very shortly as Leverkusen look to finish off Roma in the second leg.

More on those teams

Bayer04 are showing three changes to the team that started in Rome a week ago. Adam Hložek, Exequiel Palacios and Jonas Hofmann are all in from the get-go for Xabi Alonso's side, with Robert Andrich, Josip Stanišić and Florian Wirtz all named among the subs. As has been the custom this term, Matěj Kovář is in goal for the cup competitions. Paulo Dybala suffered an injury scare at the weekend but is among Roma's replacements here. Sardar Azmoun - on loan from B04 - starts in attack for the Giallorossi.

Leverkusen subs

Hrádecký, Lomb, Stanišić, Kossounou, Andrich, Borja Iglesias, Wirtz, Arthur, Schick, Boniface, Tella, Puerta

Roma starting XI

Svilar - Mancini, Cristante, Ndicka - Angeliño, Paredes, Pellegrini (c), Spinazzola - Azmoun, El Shaarawy - Lukaku

Roma subs

Patrício, Karsdorp, Smalling, Dybala, Abraham, Diego Llorente, Sanches, Aouar, Baldanzi, Çelik, Bove, Zalewski

Goals galore

Xabi Alonso's side have scored some cracking goals this season so as we count down to kick-off at the BayArena, why not sit back and enjoy some of the best goals from the Werkself in 2023/24.

Andrich the man

Robert Andrich has had such a fantastic season that the versatile defensive midfielder is now a full Germany international with serious aims on a place in his country's side at this summer's EUROs. The 29-year-old has five goals and five assists to his name for Leverkusen this term and has played an integral role alongside Granit Xhaka for the Werkself in 2023/24.

Trophy memories

Leverkusen lifted the UEFA Cup - which would later become the Europa League - in 1988 when they defeated Espanyol on penalties. The final was played over two legs, with each team winning 3-0 at home.

No more Neverkusen

Bayer are on for an incredible treble of Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Europa League. Achieving that feat would represent a monumental achievement. The Meisterschale is already in the bag, meaning the monicker Neverkusen is very much consigned to the past.

Solid record

The season sees Bayer fighting it out in the Europa League for the sixth consecutive campaign while, as mentioned previously, this is their second straight semi-final. It will be goodbye Europa League and hello Champions League next term for the Bundesliga winners, however.

Grimaldo the Great

How good has Álex Grimaldo been for Bayer04 this season 🤩? The Spaniard has weighed in with two goals in ten Europa League appearances for the Werkself while he has an astonishing 22 goal involvements in the Bundesliga. The flying full-back is in with a shout to win April's Player of the Month.

Tale of the tape

There's almost nothing to separate these teams in terms of their record facing each other. Both Bayer and Roma have won on two occasions, with the sides also playing out three draws. The Bundesliga outfit have scored an aggregate 12 goals to Roma's 10 in those contests.

Man in the middle

The 41-year-old Dutch referee Danny Makkelie will take charge of tonight's contest at the BayArena.

Finalists await

Should they finish off their opponents tonight, Xabi Alonso's men would face either Atalanta or Marseille in the final in Dublin on 22 May.

Sweet revenge?

Leverkusen and Roma have been here before, of course. Just last year, in fact. In last season's semi-final, the Italian giants prevailed 1-0 on aggregate to reach the showpiece but with a 2-0 lead going into tonight's second leg, Bayer are very much in the driving seat to reach their first European final in 22 years.

Watch: Alonso targets unbeaten season

Following victory over Frankfurt on Sunday, Leverkusen's tactical mastermind also laid clear his ambitions for Die Werkself to now end the campaign as Invincibles...

Alonso on Roma

Alonso spoke to press alongside Tapsoba and said: "A second leg is always a dangerous situation no matter the result before. We're preparing to play well with good motivation and at our own game. We want to be aggressive, control and defend well as a team. We're expecting Roma to come with the hope of qualifying."

Tapsoba on the second-leg

Edmond Tapsoba has been talking to media on the eve of the game, reflecting on last term's last-four loss to Roma in this same competition, saying: "Last season, we saw how the fans suffered after the second leg. We want to give them this as a reward. We will take the second leg as a normal game. We will act like the game starts from the beginning again and then fight for a win."

Leverkusen team news

As has become customary this term, Xabi Alonso rotated heavily against Frankfurt as he targets an historic treble. Álex Grimaldo, Jonathan Tah and Florian Wirtz were rested in various capacities but are set to be recalled, while Matěj Kovář will start in goal as he has throughout the campaign in cup competition.

Roma team news

Roma picked up a point at home to Juventus in their Serie A game on Sunday, where there was an injury scare for forward Paulo Dybala, who was brought off with a groin problem. It remains to be seen whether the Argentine will recover in time.

Watch: Eintracht Frankfurt 1-5 Bayer Leverkusen - highlights

The Leverkusen train continued at full steam ahead last weekend...

Dublin calling

With a 2-0 lead in the tie, will unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen see off Roma to reach the UEFA Europa League final? Stay tuned to find out...

First-leg report 

Roma 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1
Wirtz 28' (assist: Grimaldo), 0-2 Andrich 72' (assist: Stanišić)

Florian Wirtz and Robert Andrich goals gave Leverkusen a 2-0 win in Rome in their semi-final first leg.

It was immediately clear that Leverkusen would face a battle against the experienced Serie A campaigners. The Bundesliga champions stuck to their patient passing play and probed Roma, with Granit Xhaka hitting a couple of efforts in the opening minutes. The hosts fired the first shot on goal, though, with a Paulo Dybala drive saved by Matěj Kovář. Backed by a passionate Stadio Olmpico, Roma penned Xabi Alonso's men back and Romelu Lukaku sent a header crashing against the crossbar. The visitors pounced on a defensive mistake to take the lead against the run of play as Alejandro Grimaldo seized on a loss of possession from Rick Karsdorp to cut the ball back for Wirtz to slam the ball in. The dazzling playmaker had a chance for a second goal soon afterwards, but his stinging shot from Jeremie Frimpong's pass back was saved. With Roma rattled, Grimaldo picked out Frimpong in the box with another incisive drag back, only for the Dutchman to fire a whisker wide. Andrich also tested the goalkeeper and Frimpong missed a good opening on a break as Leverkusen finished the first period on top.  

With Roma seeking to force a way back, Leverkusen continued to find space to attack in with Piero Hincapié sending a free header wide from a Grimaldo corner. Bryan Cristante then glanced a header from a corner wide when in a superb position at the other end. Both teams showed ambition as the second half wore on, albeit few major chances fell for a while as the visitors closed in on a very useful away win. When Josip Stanišić dragged the ball back to Andrich around 25 yards out, the midfielder dispatched a stunning drive into the roof of the net to send the travelling Leverkusen fans into raptures. Hincapié then slid in to stop Leverkusen loanee Sardar Azmoun from pouncing in the box before Tammy Abraham headed over an open goal in stoppage time, keeping the champions unbeaten in a remarkable 47 competitive games in 2023/24 and in an ideal position in the tie ahead of next Thursday's second leg in Germany.