Updated May 3rd, 2024 at 11:14 IST

Bayer Leverkusen's record unbeaten march continues with a 2-0 win at Roma in Europa League

The freshly crowned first-time Bundesliga champion silenced the Stadio Olimpico with a 2-0 win at Roma in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals on Thursday to extend its unbeaten streak to 47 matches across all competitions.

Florian Wirtz celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal with his teammates during the Europa League semifinal first leg soccer match between Roma and Bayer Leverkusen at Rome's Olympic Stadium | Image: AP
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An imposing stadium in a major foreign capital did nothing to stop Bayer Leverkusen’s record unbeaten march across Europe.

The freshly crowned first-time Bundesliga champion silenced the Stadio Olimpico with a 2-0 win at Roma in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals on Thursday to extend its unbeaten streak to 47 matches across all competitions.

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No club from Europe’s five biggest leagues — in Germany, England, Italy, Spain and France — has had a longer unbeaten streak.

The result also marked a measure of revenge for Leverkusen — since Roma had beaten the German club in this exact same stage last season for its last defeat in Europe.

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Leverkusen’s last loss across all competitions was a 3-0 defeat to Bochum in the final round of last season’s Bundesliga nearly a year ago — on May 27, 2023.

Roma was dangerous with an early header off the crossbar from Romelu Lukaku. But then Leverkusen scored on the counterattack seven minutes later.

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A failed back pass from Roma right back Rick Karsdorp under pressure from Alex Grimaldo on the left flank resulted in a 3-on-1 for Leverkusen. Grimaldo then passed to Florian Wirtz, who calmly slotted in from the center of the area.

Midfielder Robert Andrich added another goal for Leverkusen in the 73rd with a long-range shot — just as Roma had been threatening on the other end.

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In the other semifinal, Atalanta drew 1-1 at Marseille.

The second legs will be held next Thursday, with the final to be held in Dublin on May 22.

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Leverkusen has won only one European trophy: the 1988 UEFA Cup, which was then predecessor to the Europa League. Its only other European final came in the 2002 Champions League, won by Real Madrid.

Roma is aiming to qualify for its third consecutive European final after winning the Europa Conference League in 2022 and losing last year’s Europa League final to Sevilla in a penalty shootout.

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Daniele De Rossi replaced Jose Mourinho as Roma’s coach in January.

The Giallorossi hadn’t lost a European knockout stage at the Stadio Olimpico in seven years — since getting beat 1-0 by Villarreal in the 2017 Europa League.

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Roma fans’ pre-match choreography across one entire end of the stadium spelled out the word “AVANZIAMO” (“Let’s advance”). But Roma now faces an uphill challenge to eliminate Leverkusen, which hasn't lost all season.

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Published May 3rd, 2024 at 10:05 IST