Bayer Leverkusen ‘want, deserve more’ after record night

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

Furthermore, added the Spanish coach, his team had the look of group that wanted more from an already historic season.

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Leverkusen, the Bundesliga champions who have also reached the May 25 German Cup final, played their 49th match without defeat in all competitions, surpassing Benfica‘s long-standing European record set from 1963 to 1965.

They achieved the milestone after a late comeback from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw at home to Roma, securing their spot in the May 22 final in Dublin by 4-2 on aggregate.

“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.”

Leverkusen had a slice of luck as Roma defender Gianluca Mancini deflected the ball into his own net in the 82nd minute.

Substitute Josip Stanisic then scored the equaliser just before the final whistle to send Leverkusen into the record books and said it was among the biggest moments of his career.

“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,” said Croatia international Stanisic.

“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.”

Team captain Granit Xhaka, who scored a superb goal in Leverkusen’s runaway win over Eintracht Frankfurt to help push the unbeaten streak to 48 on Sunday, described the feeling after the game as something more than just emotional.

“It’s pure goosebumps!” Xhaka told German television RTL. “You dream of an atmosphere like this. You dream of games like this. As a kid, you want to be in these games and then when you equalize just before the end and get to the final, it’s incredible.”

For Roma, the chance to make it into 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 manager Daniele De Rossi told Sky Sports Italia.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this story.

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