Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Bayer Leverkusen deserve treble, says Xabi Alonso after Roma late show

SoccerNews in Serie A 10 May 2024

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Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso said his team deserve to win all three trophies available to them this season after they qualified for the Europa League final by seeing off Roma on Thursday.

Leverkusen, who have already wrapped up the Bundesliga title and will contest the DFB-Pokal final on May 25, stretched their unbeaten run through all competitions this season to 49 matches, surpassing Benfica’s long-standing European top-tier record set between 1963 and 1965.

Once again, they did it the hard way after two Leandro Paredes penalties wiped out their first-leg advantage, with a Gianluca Mancini own goal and a stoppage-time strike from Josip Stanisic completing a dramatic comeback.

Following their 4-2 aggregate victory, Roma will face Atalanta in the May 22 final in Dublin, after La Dea overcame Marseille 4-1 on aggregate in the other semi-final.

“We’ll play two finals in a week as a result,” Alonso said. “We showed great character today after their second goal.

“I looked my players in the eye afterwards and saw that they wanted more.

“We still have the chance to win three titles, and my boys deserve all three titles.”

Despite going 3-2 up on aggregate when Mancini put through his own net, Leverkusen refused to sit back as they looked to preserve their unbeaten record, which they did through Stanisic’s 97th-minute strike.

Asked whether that goal was one of the biggest moments of his career, the Bayern Munich loanee said: “Definitely one of them.

“We knew what was at stake, we really wanted to get to the final and I think you could see that over 90 minutes today.

“I don’t think we would have cared in the end if we lost and still progressed because we really wanted to get to the final, but it’s even nicer this way.”

For Roma, the chance to reach a second straight Europa League final after last season’s defeat by Sevilla on penalties slipped away in the dying minutes of the match.

“When you manage to get it back from 2-0 down and go close to the miracle, knowing nobody has ever beaten them this season, it hurts to see us concede a goal like that. It hurts,” Roma boss Daniele De Rossi told Sky Sports Italia.

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