AS Roma comes close to achieving the feat against Bayer Leverkusen

The Giallorossi manage to come back but in the final minutes they cannot resist the attacks of the new Bundesliga champions
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v AS Roma: Semi-Final Second Leg - UEFA Europa League 2023/24
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v AS Roma: Semi-Final Second Leg - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 / Stefan Matzke - sampics/GettyImages

AS Roma showed up in Leverkusen with the aim of overcoming the 0-2 defeat suffered at home in the first leg.

This objective was particularly complicated considering Bayer Leverkusen, fresh from winning their first historic Bundesliga, have not lost a single match this season.

As for the lineups, coach Daniele De Rossi had to do without his star Paulo Dybala who suffered a muscle strain in the training sessions preceding the match against the Germans. Therefore he fielded in his place the Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun who is also a former player of the match.

For his part, Xabi Alonso initially chose to leave both scorers of the victorious first leg on the bench, the talented Florian Wirtz and the midfielder Robert Andrich.

The start of the match immediately showed a certain tension among the players on the pitch.

In any case, the first great opportunity was created by the Giallorossi with a long throw from captain Lorenzo Pellegrini towards his striker Romelu Lukaku who won a physical duel against the opposing defender but was unable to control the ball perfectly so much so that was preceded by the exit of goalkeeper Matej Kovar.

Subsequently it was Bayer Leverkusen's turn with striker Adam Hlozek who managed to control the ball in a favorable position, in the center of the penalty area, but before being able to shoot on goal he was blocked by the timely intervention of the opponent Gianluca Mancini.

The Germans tried again with a powerful shot from midfielder Exequiel Palacios which was blocked by goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

In the meantime there was a muscle problem for the winger Leonardo Spinazzola who was forced to leave the pitch. Nicola Zalewski took his place.

Adam Hlozek once again tried to make himself dangerous with a precise shot which once again found the opposing goalkeeper prepared and well blocked.

From this moment on in the match, Bayer Leverkusen prevailed both in terms of ball possession and in the fluidity of offensive manoeuvres.

As proof of the above, once again the Argentine midfielder Palacios came close to scoring the opening goal by hitting the post with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Therefore, coach De Rossi tried to stem the explosive speed of Jeremie Frimpong on the right flank of the pitch by moving Stephan El Shaarawy onto it, considering the warning received by the new substitute Zalewski a few minutes after his entry into the field.

Nonetheless, the same Dutch winger got to the shot, forcing the opposing goalkeeper into another great diving save.

AS Roma tried to resist the home team's siege by greatly lowering their center of gravity and completely renouncing attacking, aiming solely at long balls towards their two attackers who were too distant from the rest of the team.

This attitude certainly facilitated the possible attacks of the hosts who did not find the advantage only thanks to Svilar's great interventions.

Then, before the end of the first half, the match referee detected a hold by defender Jonathan Tah against Sardar Azmoun and consequently whistled a penalty foul in favor of the Giallorossi.

Neither Lukaku nor Pellegrini appeared on the spot but rather the Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes who wrong-footed the opposing goalkeeper by scoring the goal that made the comeback possible.

An intense first half thus ended at 0-1.

Leandro Paredes
Leandro Paredes celebrates his second penalty that brought the match back to a draw / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

The second half resumed at the pace of the first half of the game, with the Germans immediately regaining control of the ball and trying to reach the conclusion.

However, such conclusions have often proven to be inaccurate or weak.

Particularly interesting, however, were the opportunities created by Amine Adli, with a treacherous shot that went just wide with the goalkeeper remaining immobile, and by Jonas Hofmann who was well served in depth and finding himself in front of the opposing goalkeeper he made block from the latter.

AS Roma found the necessary confidence to try to find the goal that would have put the match in total balance.

First with an opportunity not realized by Bryan Cristante. Subsequently on the developments of a corner kick in which, after VAR review, a handball was detected which led the referee to whistle a penalty in favor of the guests.

So in the 66th minute Leandro Paredes appeared on the spot again and with remarkable coolness and precision he once again passed goalkeeper Kovar.

Now qualification for the final was wide open again.

Ten minutes before the end of the match both coaches made their changes.

Xabi Alonso tried to insert offensive elements such as Patrick Shick and Florian Wirtz, while Daniele De Rossi preferred to insert players with greater physicality such as Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham.

In the 82nd minute, Frimpong made his umpteenth acceleration down the right flank and won a precious corner kick.

From the aforementioned corner came the goal for Bayer Leverkusen favored by an empty exit by goalkeeper Mile Svilar and by the unfortunate touch of Gianluca Mancini who involuntarily directed the ball into his own goal.

The AS Roma players evidently suffered the goal psychologically and suffered from the considerable physical tiredness they had accumulated while the hosts found the opportunity clear as well as being pushed by the incessant support of their fans.

All this further favored the dribbling of the home team who were thus able to lower the pace of the match so as not to risk anything.

Indeed, on the last occasion of the match, Bayer Leverkusen found the 2-2 goal with the substitute Josip Stanisic who managed to enter the penalty area and make a very precise curling shot on the far side.

At this point the remaining hopes for the Italian team definitively disappeared.


Therefore, it was the Germans who gained access to the UEFA Europa League final which will see them face another Italian team in Atalanta who managed to prevail in the other semi-final against Olympique de Marseille.

For AS Roma, they now concentrate on Seria A where they will have to maintain fifth place in the standings, precisely in the duel against Atalanta, so as to gain access to the next edition of the UEFA Champions League.