Leverkusen rallies late in draw with Roma to preserve unbeaten record and reach Europa League final

Bayer Leverkusen had a double reason to celebrate in stoppage time on Thursday.

Not only did it reach the Europa League final and keep its treble bid on course but substitute Josip Stanišic’s late goal preserved its remarkable unbeaten record as Leverkusen rescued a 2-2 draw against Roma.

Both had seemed at risk during the semifinal second leg after two Leandro Paredes penalties had made it 2-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate. But an own goal by Roma defender Gianluca Mancini eight minutes from time and Stanišic’s equalizer saw Leverkusen stretch its unbeaten streak to 49 matches.

Leverkusen advanced 4-2 on aggregate and will face another Italian team on May 22 in Dublin after Atalanta beat Marseille 3-0 to advance 4-1 on aggregate.

“It’s pure goosebumps!” Granit 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.”

The fact that its unbeaten record was preserved about 30 seconds away from coming to an end was another improbable finale in an impressive season for Xabi Alonso’s team, which has already won the Bundesliga title and also reached the German Cup final.

Leverkusen’s equalizer was its 17th goal of the season in the 90th minute or later across all competitions and the third time it has come back from 2-0 down in the second half of Europa League knockout matches.

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