Matthew Marshall, BayArena – Bayer Leverkusen’s Europa League campaign came to a close after a 1-0 defeat against Atalanta. Down 3-2 after the first leg, they failed to take their chances at the BayArena with a large proportion falling to Moussa Diaby.
The Werkself were dealt the killer blow in added time, Jonathan Tah allowing Jérémie Boga through on goal where he beat Lukás Hrádecky. The absence of Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick proved too much to overcome for the Werkself.
Bayer Leverkusen’s main weapon was established early on, Mitchell Bakker cutting through Atalanta’s defence and finding Moussa Diaby but his shot was weak and straight at Juan Musso.
Charles Aránguiz then released Diaby but Atalanta’s defence recovered to block the French wingers shot.
The Italian club were relying heavily on Luis Muriel up front. Released by Teun Koopmeiners, the Colombian’s shot was deflected wide before he sent a free kick over the bar.
Leverkusen’s best chance of the match came in the 48th minute. Sent through on goal by Kerem Demirbay, Diaby lacked composure and hit his shot too close to Musso who saved with an outstretched leg.
The Werkself began to pile on the pressure, winning a succession of corners and Charles Aránguiz firing over the bar.
Gerardo Seoane made a triple substitution in the 62nd minute with Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Exequiel Palacios and Kerem Demirbay replaced by Karim Bellarabi, Robert Andrich and Sardar Azmoun.
Gian Piero Gasperini responded by replacing Ruslan Malinovskyi with Jérémie Boga.
Atalanta were unable to stop the waves of attack coming their way, retreating deeper and sitting on their one goal advantage. Bakker shot into the side netting, Diaby missed the target and Andrich’s shot was saved.
Gasperini needed fresh legs on the pitch with Davide Zappacosta and Luis Muriel making way for Giuseppe Pezzella and Matteo Pessina. Seoane was running out of options as Aránguiz came off for Lucas Alario.
Leverkusen kept probing, but they started to lose their cool as Atalanta’s defence continued to stand strong. The tie was decided in added time, Boga going past a statuesque Jonatan Tah and beating Lukás Hrádecky from a tight angle.