Group stage play is heating up in the Europa League as a few teams couldn’t avoid banana-peel losses in the competition. Roma fell to Slavia Praha 2-0 while Liverpool also lost a wild 3-2 match to Toulouse. However, one team that went into a tough environment and emerged victorious was Bayer Leverkusen. Xabi Alonso’s team have gone through all challenges in both the league and European competition. It took until stoppage time for them to crack Qarabag but a penalty from Victor Boniface in the 94th minute of play was just enough to push the German side right along in Group H where their six-point lead means that only one more point may be needed to see them qualify for the knockout stages of Europa League play.
Europa League scores
LASK 3, Union Saint-Gilloise 0
Ajax 0, Brighton 2
Rennes 3, Panathinaikos 1
Qarabag FK 0, Bayer Leverkusen 1
Toulouse 3, Luverpool 2
Maccabi Haifa 1, Villarreal 2
Slavia Praha 2, Roma 0
Servette 2, Sheriff 1
AEK Athens 0, Marseille 2
West Ham United 1, Olympiacos 0
Sporting CP 2, Rakow Czestochowa 1
Real Betis 4, Aris Limassol 1
Rangers 2, Sparta Prague 1
SC Freiburg 5, Backa Topola 0
Hacken 1, Molde 3
Atalanta 1, Sturm Graz 0
Bayer Leverkusen are contenders
Undefeated between domestic and European competitions, Bayer Leverkusen have been quite impressive under Alonso. Nigerian striker Victor Boniface gets plaudits for his goals but this team has been a unit from top to bottom. Only allowing two goals while also scoring the most in group stage play with 12, this is a Leverkusen team that can make a run to the title. Considering their domestic performance, even the addition of Champions League teams to Europa League won’t be able to stop Leverkusen. Boniface has 11 goals and six assists in all competitions in only 15 appearances while Florian Wirtz is growing into his own as a creative player alongside him with six goals and nine assists in all competitions. When Jeremie Frimpong is the third- or fourth-best attacker on a team, it speaks volumes for how the squad was built, and for Leverkusen, sustained success is the goal.
Jurgen Klopp not happy that his press conference is interrupted
It’s one thing to lose a disappointing game during which your team could’ve qualified for the next round of Europa League play but it’s another to have your press conference derailed by fans after the match but that’s just what happened to Jurgen Klopp. Expressing his disappointment in the team’s performance, Klopp’s presser was abruptly interrupted by Toulouse fans.
“Who had the idea to do the press conference here, that would be a really interesting question. Wow,” Klopp said as fans could be heard marching past the presser cheering and celebrating the result.
While it was an exciting result for the French side, Liverpool are still first in the group by two points and are in the drivers seat to avoid a date with a Champions League team that drops down to the competition before the round of 16 begins.
Roma struggles without Mourinho at the wheel
With Jose Mourinho suspended, Roma assistant manager Salvatore Foti oversaw a loss to Slavia Praha that saw the Italian side drop to second in the group. Only able to muster two shots on target, Roma may not control their own destiny for avoiding a Champions League side in the next round after this loss. A squad that has gone on roller coasters all season, Roma will need to go on a consistent run as Mourinho returns from his suspension following this match. Facing Lazio in the Derby della Capitale this weekend, it will be a chance for Roma to immediately make a statement but Lazio has been another team that can make things ugly for their opposition. A loss in that match could spell trouble for Roma, who sit seventh in Serie A play this season.