Bayer 04 Leverkusen progressed to the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 following a 4-1 aggregate win over Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-1 Sporting Clube de Portugal (agg. 4-1)
Keen to build on a 1-0 lead from last week's Round of 32 first leg in Portugal, Leverkusen set their stall out to attack. A couple of Hakan Calhanoglu free kicks almost yielded the breakthrough, but the first was headed straight at Rui Patricio by Kyriakos Papadopoulos, before Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez went within a whisker of getting his head on the second. Patricio was called on again to keep out a low strike from Wendell, but the Sporting goalkeeper was unable to prevent Karim Bellarabi from driving in the opening goal.
Sporting were boosted by a strong first-half finish that culminated in Joao Mario pulling a goal back from close range, but a moment of individual brilliance from Bellarabi all but sealed Leverkusen’s place in the Round of 16. The Germany international coolly shifted the ball inside, before sending an unstoppable rising drive beyond the despairing dive of Patricio and into the top corner. After Calhanoglu added an emphatic third, Chicharito almost got the goal his performance deserved, but the Mexico international’s effort was cleared off the line.
The draw for last 16 will take play in Nyon on Friday, 26 February.
Man of the match
Bellarabi was a nuisance throughout on the left-hand side of midfield and took both goals really well - particularly his second, which was out of the top drawer.
Leverkusen: Leno - Jedvaj, Tah, Papadopoulos (Kruse 88'), Wendell - Kramer, Calhanoglu - Bellarabi, Brandt (Mehmedi 46') - Hernandez, Kießling (c) (Ramalho 63')
Sporting: Rui Patricio - Joao Pereira, Naldo, Ewerton, Jefferson - William Carvalho (c), Aquilani - Carlos Mane (Ruiz 63'), Bruno Cesar (Gelson Martins 78') - Joao Mario, Gutierrez (Slimani 68’)