Karim Bellarabi scored a brace and Hakan Calhanoglu added a third as Leverkusen beat Sporting CP 3-1 in the Europa League at BayArena on Thursday.
- Leverkusen 1 Sporting CP 1
- Bellarabi scores twice
- Joao Mario pulls one back
- Calhanoglu wraps it up
- Leverkusen win the tie 4-1 on aggregate
An end-to-end first half saw Leverkusen strike first through Karim Bellarabi, who got on the end of a swift counterattack to squeeze it past Rui Patricio at the near post, putting the German side 2-0 up on aggregate.
With halftime approaching, Sporting then pulled one back when Carlos Mane got on the end of Joao Pereira’s cross and Bernd Leno was only able to parry his effort into the path of Joao Mario, who buried his shot on the rebound.
With the scores level on the night, Leverkusen’s aggregate lead looked extremely fragile until Bellarabi made himself the hero once again, bagging his second of the night with a screamer from long range into the far corner, before Hakan Calhanoglu finished it off with a fine volley in the closing stages.
Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio was tested as early as the second minute, when Kyriakos Papadopoulos met a Hakan Calhanoglu free kick with a header on target, but it was no match for the keeper. A few minutes later and Javier Hernandez came within inches of meeting a corner at the back post.
Leverkusen broke the deadlock on the night with a quick counterattack. Sporting had just threatened down the other end, with Bruno Cesar bursting down their left flank and into the box, where a challenge from the Leverkusen defender tripped him up a bit, but he stayed on his feet rather than look for a penalty, allowing Leverkusen to clear and then attack on the break.
The German side moved the ball swiftly to Javier Hernandez, who found Karim Bellarabi on his right. The winger faced a difficult angle at the near post, but was still able to squeeze it past the goalkeeper, with Hernandez well positioned in the centre to make sure it crossed the line.
But Sporting found an equaliser soon afterwards, with Joao Pereira making his way down the right flank and firing in a low cross towards Carlos Mane, who met it with a side-footed volley that Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno could only parry away, allowing Joao Mario to fire home from the left side of the box.
Bellarabi then struck again in the second half, and this time it was a wonderstrike from the 25-year-old, who picked up possession on the left and cut in onto his right foot, releasing a swinging thunderbolt into the far corner from long range.
Calhanoglu then finished the game off in style in the 87th minute. The playmaker was lurking on the shoulder of the defence and was picked out by Jonathan Tah with a long ball over the top. He controlled it perfectly with his first touch, before unleashing a fierce volley into the back of the net.