With a dramatic 3-2 win over Celtic at home on Thursday, Bayer Leverkusen punched their Europa League last 16 tickets as group winners. Moussa Diaby volleyed in a late winner.
Midfielder Robert Andrich’s second goal of the night and winger Diaby’s goal in a five-minute burst late in the game swung the game in favor of hosts Leverkusen.
“We were shocked to be 2-1 down and needed some time to regain control,” Leverkusen’s double goal-scorer Andrich admitted.
“We had to be patient and deserved the outcome.”
While the Germans advanced to the knockout stages as Group G winners, Celtic’s away defeat means they will finish third after Real Betis won 2-0 at Ferencvaros Budapest.
“(Conceding) two late goals were disappointing, and we fell short,” Celtic’s Australian coach Ange Postecoglou lamented.
“In the end, we lost our cool and made poor decisions.”
Andrich’s early header for Leverkusen was cancelled out when Josip Juranovic equalized with a penalty early in the second half before Jota was left unmarked in the area to put Celtic ahead for the first time shortly after the break.
Andrich, a midfielder for Leverkusen, equalized for the hosts eight minutes from time before Diaby’s volley sealed the victory.
“It’s not easy to finish first in a group with one game remaining.” “In the end, we were rewarded for our efforts,” Leverkusen coach Gerardo Seoane said.
The result maintains Leverkusen’s record of never losing at home in the Europa League group stages, while Celtic must wait for their first win in European competition on German soil.
Andrich outpaced his marker Stephen Welsh at a corner and powered his header past Celtic’s former England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Celtic began to apply pressure.
When Japan striker Kyogo Furuhashi got in behind the defence, his speculative shot to the far post sailed just wide of Jota.
Five minutes before halftime, Juranovic chipped in from the penalty spot after home goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky fouled Furuhashi as he went to punch clear across.
Leverkusen finished the first half strongly, with Florian Wirtz and Moussa Diaby both hitting the crossbar, but the score remained 1-1 at the break.
Hart came to Celtic’s aid early in the second half, scrambling back to deny Jeremie Frimpong just moments after blocking a Diaby shot.
At the other end, Jota, on loan from Benfica, put Celtic ahead when Furuhashi spotted the Portuguese unmarked on the edge of the area and allowed him to blast his shot past Hradecky.
Andrich beat Hart for the second time five minutes later, before Diaby volleyed in the winner after being picked out unmarked by a Florian Wirtz pass.