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A. Laïdouni (82)

Leverkusen falter to 1-0 defeat in Hungary despite comfortably topping Group G and progress to the Round of 16

By Ultan Corcoran   @UltanCorcoran

Laidouni's 82nd minute goal gave Gerardo Seoane's second string side the first loss of their Europa League campaign
Leverkusen manager Gerardo Seoane.
Leverkusen manager Gerardo Seoane.
As Leverkusen took to the road for their final Europa League group stage game, Hungarian opposition Ferencvaros greeted them with a familiar ex-Bundesliga managerial face in charge – Peter Stoeger. With first place assured in Group G, Bayer made multiple changes after their 7-goal weekend demolition of Greuther Furth. Only Tapsoba and Palacios retained their places as other key players were evidently afforded a rest before travelling to Frankfurt this coming Sunday.

After the initial 45 minutes, Nadiem Amiri had a brace of golden opportunities. The first effort was afforded to him thanks to some poor Ferencvaros goalkeeping, although the German midfielder failed to prevent his effort sailing over the bar from 8 yards out. Four minutes later a cut back found Amiri arriving in the box again. His low shot this time met brilliantly by the outstretched leg of Dibusz, diverting the effort away from goal.

Leverkusen briefly thought they went ahead 24 minutes in through Retsos’ delicately chipped finish, only for it to be ruled out thanks to an earlier infringement by teammate Karim Bellarabi. The remaining 20 minutes of the half witnessed little action with both teams’ fate in the group already sealed before a ball had been kicked.

For a second time in the game B04 seemed to bag the first goal of the game. Amiri fed Paulinho who slotted the ball home. Much to the Brazilian’s disappointment the goal was quickly overturned for his marginal offside. The score remained nil-nil in Hungary.

One of Die Werkself’s better moves on the night came in the 78th minute. Paulinho danced his way into the Ferencvaros box. The winger tried to find Alario but he overhit the pass and the Argentine forward was forced too far wide to release a shot. Another opportunity presented itself to Paulinho again, but his strike was easily dealt with by Dibusz.

Completely against the run of play, the home side took the lead 8 minutes from time. A short corner found Zubkov who in turn crossed to Laidouni. The Tunisian midfielder snuck in behind Frimpong to thunder his header past a statue-like Lunyov in goal for 1-0. Nonetheless, B04 progress as group winners to await the draw for the knockouts in the new year.

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