Keita Balde Diao scored the only goal of a highly-entertaining Champions League play-off between Lazio and Bayer Leverkusen at Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.
- Lazio 1 – 0 Bayer Leverkusen
- Keita scores late on for Lazio
- Both teams hit the post within a minute
- Plenty of chances go begging for both sides
A succession of near-misses started in the 26th minute when Bayer midfielder Lars Bender hit the post, and a quick turnover of possession then allowed Lazio to counterattack, with former Germany international Miroslav Klose latching onto Felipe Anderson's through ball and going round the keeper before hitting the upright from a tight angle.
The chances continued in the second half as both team's pushed for an opener. Shots, crosses and cutbacks were coming thick and fast on both sides of the pitch, but it looked to be one of those games where the ball just wouldn't go in.
Bayer thought they found the breakthrough in the 69th minute when Hakan Calhanoglu met Karim Bellarabi's cross, but the shot went in via Stefan Kiessling, who was in an offside position and it wasn't allowed to stand.
Keita Balde Diao then took matters into his own hands in the 77th minute, latching onto an error from Kyriakos Papadopoulos and charging through the Bayer defence with a powerful run and blasting low past Bernd Leno into the bottom corner for the only goal of the game.
The match got off to an intense but scrappy start, with neither side getting it right in the early stages.But the match burst into life in the 23rd minute, when Karim Bellarabi picked up possession just to the left of the box, outfoxed Dusan Basta with some skills and blasted it over the crossbar.
The woodwork was called into action soon afterwards, when Lars Bender's shot hit the post and bounced back into play, allowing Lazio to counterattack through Felipe Anderson. The Brazilian's through-ball fed Miroslav Klose, who rounded the keeper but couldn't squeeze it in from the tight angle he had given himself.
Calhanoglu had a sniff of goal late in the first half when he spotted the goalkeeper off his line. The Turkey international attempted a spectacular effort from within his own half to try catch Berisha out, but the back-peddling Albanian watched with relief as it bounced just wide of goal.
The second half produced plenty of chances at either end as it opened up into a box-to-box battle, but neither side could find that killer touch and the match continued without a goal.
Eventually the net was found in the 69th minute when Bellarabi got to the byline and pulled it back across goal for Calhanoglu to strike, but it was disallowed as the ball hit Kiessling while he was in an offside position.
It didn't seem like this match could remain goalless for long, and in the 77th minute Keita produced some individual magic when he picking up on loose possession, charged through the Bayer defence and fired into the bottom corner past Leno.
There were further chances late on in the game, as there had been throughout the second half, but Keita's goal remained the only opportunity that had found its target and was enough to hand the Italian side an aggregate advantage for the second leg in Germany next Wednesday.