Leverkusen beat Lazio in UEFA Champions League play-offs

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Berlin, Aug 27 (IANS) Bayer Leverkusen overpowered Lazio 3-0 at the second leg of the play-offs on home soil to book their ticket for the UEFA Champions League group stage.

The “Werkself” overturned the 1-0 first-leg loss as they edged Lazio 3-0 at the second leg on Wednesday to qualify for the third straight time for the UEFA Champions League group stage, reported Xinhua news agency.

Hakan Calhanoglu, Admir Mehmedi and Karim Bellarabi scored the decisive goals for the home side.

The hosts took the reins from the kick-off against visitors, who defended deep to lurk for counter attacks.

Hakan Calhanoglu unleashed two long-range efforts to test Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha as Leverkusen lacked in penetration to overcome the visitors’ well-positioned bulwark.

As the match progressed, Leverkusen nearly broke the deadlock with 25 minutes into the encounter but Stefan Kiessling’s header was denied by the woodwork.

Lazio remained dangerous on the counters and were almost successful but Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno denied Balde Diao Keita twice.

However, Hakan Calhanoglu scored the aggregate leveler six minutes before the break as Lazio failed to clear the ball from their penalty box. Hence, Calhanoglu utilized a rebound to break the deadlock from inside the box into the far post corner.

After the restart, Leverkusen caught a fairy-tale start as Admir Mehmedi doubled the lead with a hammer into the near post corner following a through ball by Karim Bellarabi at the 48th minute.

The draw for the group stage will be held at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum on Thursday.

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