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Roma 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen: Europa League semi-final, first leg – live reaction | Europa League

Written by on May 2, 2024

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A quick hit from Reuters before our proper match report arrives:

Goals by Florian Wirtz and Robert Andrich gave Bayer Leverkusen a 2-0 advantage over AS Roma in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday. The newly-crowned Bundesliga champions and German Cup finalists took the lead through Wirtz before the half-hour mark when the midfielder scored with a simple low finish, capitalising on Roma’s defensive error.

Andrich doubled the advantage in the 73rd minute, leaving Roma goalkeeper Mile Svilar with no chance when he fired an unstoppable shot from outside the box and under the bar. The second leg will be played in Leverkusen next Thursday and the winner of the tie will face Olympique de Marseille or Atalanta in the final on May 22 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

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Jacob Steinberg

Jacob Steinberg

Here are two words that will send a shiver down the spine of every Chelsea fan: pure profit. In a world dominated by considerations around the Premier League’s financial regulations, they cannot help but fret about their homegrown talents being sold off to protect the bottom line.

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Here’s Ben Fisher’s report from Villa Park and the Europa Conference League:

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As much as it pains me to say it, having fallen in love with Roma during the heyday of Daniele de Rossi and Francesco Totti, this tie is probably over,” emails Kári Tulinius. “I’ve watched a lot of Leverkusen this season, and they just don’t do collapses.”

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Jeremie Frimpong has a chat with TNT Sports: “We knew it was going to be hard coming here,” says the tricky and impressive winger. “Roma’s a good team. We stayed focused and we’re happy. I think every game when we play we want to win. We wanted to get the goals here. And that’s what we did today.”

“You’re fast, aren’t you?” observes Matt Smith.

“Yeah, yeah.” Frimpong laughs. “Genetics, genetics, you know.”

On the second leg: “They have to come to our house, and to come to our house is difficult. We can’t wait for the second leg.

“I think motivation is easy [after wining the league]. We’re still in tournaments. It’s easy to get motivated. Everybody thinks we’ve done it [the Bundesliga] so we’re going to calm down, but there’s more trophies out there.

“I think, next week, we can play even better.”

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Smalling was certainly at fault for the first goal. It was a speculative long ball that bounced up high. Smalling failed to deal with it, allowing the far shorted Adli to outjump him. Smalling’s reaction was noticeable when the ball ended up in the back of the net too. He was distraught.

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They just replayed Andrich’s goal. Svilar was literally rooted to the spot. Open-mouthed in wonder. Beaten all ends up. What a lovely hit.

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Aston Villa 2-4 Olympiakos was how it finished in the Conference League semi-final:

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Here is David Hytner’s report from Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham:

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Marseille 1-1 Atalanta is a final score from the other semi-final first leg.

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Roma had 53% possession, and seven attempts to Leverkusen’s 12. Roma had three on target, the German side four. Roma completed 439 of 530 passes to 351 of 430 for Leverkusen.

Those stats are not as sobering for Roma as you might think, given the one-sided nature of the game.

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Full time! Roma 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen

That is 47 games unbeaten for Leverkusen, but perhaps more importantly, that is also a place in the Europa League final – unless Roma can stage something absolutely spectacular over in Germany.

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90 min + 3: Oh. My. Days.

A hopeful cross from the left causes panic for Leverkusen – very rare panic – when Kovar comes to punch but doesn’t make it. The ball ends up floating back across the open goal where Tammy Abraham is waiting. He snatches at his header from about three yards and sends it up and over the crossbar. What a miss! What a chance to take something for Roma!

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90 min + 2: Pellegrini belts a cross over from the Roma right. Leverkusen deal with it easily. Kossounou comes off the bench for the German champions. Grimaldo off.

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90 min: We will have four minutes of added time. Can De Rossi’s Roma grab a lifeline?

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90 min: Villa are losing 4-2. Think of the coefficient, lads!

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88 min: Frimpong is immediately withdrawn for Palacios.

I wouldn’t fancy wearing Leverkusen colours in the Eternal City tonight, I must say.

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87 min: Frimpong makes more inroads into the Roma defence from the Leverkusen right wing, wriggling away from a tackle or two with the ball seemingly glued to his feet. “He’s like a little electric eel!” says our commentator, Ian Darke. Which is fair.

Jeremie Frimpong has been excellent for the Bundesliga champions this evening. Photograph: Marco Iacobucci/IPA Sport/ipa-agency.net/Shutterstock
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85 min: A quick VAR check for a possible handball by Tah. Nothing doing for Roma.

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84 min: Huge chance for the hosts! Pellegrini strokes a decisive low pass into the penalty area for Azmoun, just off the bench. He’s on the six yard box with a clear sight of goal but completely mishits his shot – in fairness because Hincapie is on hand to put him off.

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83 min: Chelsea 2-0 Spurs FT

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82 min: Azmoun and Baldanzi on for Roma. Lukaku and Paredes off.

For Leverkusen, Tella and Hofmann on, for Adli and Wirtz.

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80 min: Spinazzola, Cristante, Xhaka and Andrich have all been booked. Spinazzola and Xhaka for the pushing and shoving after the goal. Not sure what sparked that, maybe some over-zealous celebrating.

It’s bookings galore following the second Leverkusen goal. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/Reuters
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So, the goal: Leverkusen hold another masterclass in playing the ball out from the back. The defenders exchange a few tidy passes before Xhaka is released in space in a central position around halfway. Grimaldo is in turn released by a fine searching pass by Xhaka, and chases the ball down the right channel.

He turns back, recycling possession with a chipped pass back for Frimpong, who feeds Stanisic, who plays it back to Andrich just outside the box. With the Roma defence out of shape, Andrich has time to set himself and stroke a quite wonderful looping, curling shot that rockets across and over the goalkeeper and into the top corner. Wow. Svilar can only watch it sail over his head and into the net- he barely even moves. What a goal, both the buildup and the finish.

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There is a big dust-up involving loads of players after a brilliant goal by Andrich.

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Goal! 73 min: Roma 0-2 Leverkusen (Andrich)

That is special!

Robert Andrich scores a simply sensational goal for Leverkusen. What a hit. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters
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71 min: On co-commentary Robbie Savage says Roma seem to lack a bit of energy, which is true, but I reckon that’s just down the fitness and skill levels of Leverkusen, not to mention their positional discipline.

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70 min: Frimpong has a sight of goal from an angle but doesn’t get his head over the ball and it rockets over the bar and into the stand.

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68 min: The minutes tick away and Roma continue to struggle to exert any kind of pressure on the visiting defence. There are some concerned and frustrated faces in red shirts. It’s disheartening for them that Leverkusen are comfortably keeping them at arm’s length, like a boxer just waiting to deliver the knockout blow.

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66 min: The Leverkusen fans are pictured partying up in the stands. It’s looking like 47 unbeaten for them …

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63 min: Tapsoba tees up Grimaldo for a shot that flies wide.

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62 min: The former Manchester City defender Angelino comes on, with Karsdorp going off for Roma. An unpleasant night for Karsdorp but it’s hardly as if his mistake will be decisive if the tie continues like this. Leverkusen will ease into the final unless Roma can somehow turn this tide.

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60 min: Another corner for Roma. Lukaku is pictured in close-up looking a bit fed up. Which is not surprising: he’s hardly got into this game at all, although it’s not for lack of effort. Roma have built nothing in terms of a possession-based game that Lukaku needs to thrive, by taking the ball to feet and looking to turn in the penalty area.

Romelu Lukaku has cut a lonely figure up front for Roma this evening. Photograph: Alfredo Falcone/AP
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56 min: Again the Roma pressing isn’t great: Andrich has time to gather the ball about 30 yards out, turn, and size up another shot from distance that swerves well wide. Not the best effort, but certainly not good defensively from Roma, either.

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55 min: Chance for Roma! Dybala swings in a corner. Cristante flicks it downwards at the near post: He’s looking for goal, I reckon, but he doesn’t get enough on it and the ball bounces up beyond the far post and out for a goal kick. Someone could have got on the end of that. Both Dybala and Cristante make their frustration clear.

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54 min: Perhaps fortified by some half time refreshments, the crowd are keeping up a very decent level of noise as they cheer Roma on. But the home team have rarely threatened. They are being starved of possession while their errors are being punished, most notably when Karsdorp’s scuffed back pass led to the goal.

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53 min: Wirtz spreads the play to Adli on the Leverkusen left. Stanisic is lurking in the middle and Adli, having advanced into a gaping hole down that flank, tries to cut the ball back to him – but Roma can intercept and clear.

Gianluca Mancini collides with Amine Adli. Ouch. Photograph: Tullio Puglia/UEFA/Getty Images
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51 min: Leverkusen win a corner that Hincapie tries to nod goalwards. It’s a good chance – he’s in space and just a few yards from goal – but he can’t get over the ball after an awkward bounce.

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48 min: Roma stroke the ball around in midfield and try to get something going. But they are mostly being forced back, or at least sideways, by Leverkusen’s positional discipline.

In the end, Spinazzola bends a rather hopeful low cross over from the Roma left that evades everyone. Karsdorp is rushing on to it at the far post and has a chance to hit a shot albeit from a tight angle. No matter, he completely misses his kick anyway.

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47 min: No changes for either side at the break. The official attendance is 64,073.

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Second half kick-off!

Can Roma get back into this?

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Taha Hashim has Villa 1-2 Olympiacos:

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Simon Burnton has Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham here:

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Half-time: Roma 0-1 Leverkusen

The positive to cling to for Roma is that this tie could conceivably be over already. Alonso’s side are mesmerisingly good.

“I’m not surprised that the visitors are finding loads of real estate in Rome,” emails Peter Oh. “After all, it’s a Bayer’s market.”

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45 min: A touch of late pressure for Roma. El Shaarawy creates a chance for a cross and Tapsoba is forced to head the ball out for a corner. Nothing comes from the set-piece though and suddenly Roma are facing a fluid, fast Leverkusen counter led by Wirtz. It’s very, very nearly 2-0 but Roma escape after a bit of penalty-area pinball. Leverkusen are just too damn good.

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42 min: And there is a chance for Roma, after all! Lukaku takes it to feet with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area but rather than gather it he plays a good first-time pass for Pellegrini, teeing his teammate up for a shot. Pellegrini bends a powerful right-footed effort that curls just wide and sends Kovar’s water bottle flying.

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41 min: Now Andrich, the Leverkusen central midfielder, cracks a powerful shot from 25 yards. Svilar saves but unconvincingly: That was a sweet strike that was moving in the air. Roma have not had a sniff of goal since that Lukaku header against the bar, and that feels a long time ago now.

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40 min: Marseille 1-1 Atalanta is a latest score in the other semi.

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38 min: Wirtz is bossing this, often dropping into the hole behind the forwards in Scholes-esque fashion. He takes the ball about 30 yards out but no one closes him down. He tees up the ball for a shot and bangs a looping effort that flies wide of Svilar’s goal. This match is passing Roma by.

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36 min: There is a flare-up in midfield involving Karsdorp and Adli. I think it was Roma’s ball but Adli grabbed it and Karsdorp gave his opponent a shove. Unfortunately for Roma that’s the only way they are able to get close to their opponents at the moment.

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34 min: Roma are being battered now. From out on the left wing, Grimaldo squares with surgical precision for Frimpong, who swivels and hits a left-footed shot first time from about 10 yards. It squirts just wide.

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31 min: More liquid football from Leverkusen: Frimpong sprints into space down their right wing and cuts back for Wirtz, whose powerful first-time sidefooted effort is saved by Svilar. The Roma defence were at sixes and sevens there. It looks effortless from Leverkusen, and that’s one of the things that makes it so impressive.

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Roma are under pressure after Smalling fails to deal with a bouncing long ball around halfway, and the far smaller Adli outjumps him. The Dutch defender, Karsdorp, then tries to play a backpass with the outside of his right boot, looking for the keeper from out near the touchline.

But he underhits it horribly and straight into the path of Grimaldo. It’s immediately a three-on-one, although that’s three Leverkusen players v Svilar in goal. The Spaniard strolls into the penalty area and squares for Wirtz, who rolls a finish calmly into the far corner of the net. What a terrible error by Karsdorp. He hangs his head in shame.

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Goal! 28 min: Roma 0-1 Leverkusen (Wirtz)

Calamity for Karsdorp!

Roma have gifted Leverkusen the opening goal as Florian Wirtz puts the away side ahead. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/Reuters
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26 min: Roma have a free-kick, which is central but a good 35 yards out, and Dybala tries a shot. It flies over the goal and never looks likely to trouble the scorers.

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23 min: After being fed by a fine ball by Xhaka, Wirtz slides a delightful Toni Kroos-style pass for Frimpong through on the Leverkusen right that tears the home defence open … Frimpong is in, one on-one, but directs his shot just wide of Svilar’s goal as the keeper rushes out to meet him and narrow the angle!

To use a well-worn co-commentator’s phrase: He’ll be disappointed with that.

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