Keita goal the difference as Lazio triumph

Lazio have triumphed in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off with Bayer Leverkusen after a late goal from Keita. Both sides played in an aggressive style from the start, and Lazio caused the Germans some early issues by getting the ball into the box. Leverkusen recovered, however, and soon looked like the more accomplished side, with Karim Bellarabi appearing particularly skilful. Heung-Min Son was denied by some good defence by Mauricio, and soon after both sides hit the post in the space of a minute. Lars Bender’s shot from range smashed into the woodwork, before Lazio worked the ball to the dangerous Felipe Anderson, who managed to play in Miroslav Klose. The veteran was unable to finish, however, being diverted well by Bernd Leno, and he hit the post under duress. Leverkusen continued to find their feet as the game went on, and Lazio were relying more upon the counter-attack. Hakan Calhanoglu nearly managed to catch Lazio keeper Etrit Berisha off guard with a shot from past halfway, but the shot just missed. Controversy ensued just before the break, when Wendell, already cautioned, blocked Felipe Anderson. This prompted Lazio to call for a second yellow, but their request was denied.

At half-time the experienced Klose was brought off for Keita, a substitution that proved to be incredibly influential. The signs were there when only some great defence from Jonathan Tah and Leno prevented the young Senegalese forward from getting through. Leverkusen still looked on top, but Keita managed to get in behind again on the counter, although it went over the bar. Leverkusen had a goal disallowed in the 69th minute, as the ball clipped an offside Stefan Kiessling while Calhanoglu put it into the back of the net. Leverkusen could have been through again when substitute Admir Mehmedi was played through after some excellent work by Christoph Kramer, only for Mehmedi to get ahead of the ball and overrun it. Keita got through again, this time forcing a save from Leno. He was clearly too quick for the Leverkusen defence and he scored 5 minutes later, running into open space between midfield and defence and beating Tah before firing past Leno. The ball bounced off the far post and in. From that point on it became clear that the Germans were simply dropping out of the match. Keita was obviously and deliberately fouled twice, by Tah and Kyriakos Papadopoulos, the latter drawing calls for a straight red when he blocked him just outside the box. Leverkusen simply could not create any clear cut chances, and from the moment Keita scored the result was inevitable.

In other matches:
Astana Arena, Astana: Astana defeated Cypriot champions APOEL 1-0 after a goal from Baurzhan Dzholchiev, and they take the advantage going into the second leg in Nicosia.
Borisov Arena, Barysaw: A late goal to Mikhail Gordeichuk gave BATE Borisov a win at home against Partizan, after Marko Jevtovic was sent off for the visitors.
Old Trafford, Manchester: An early own goal by Michael Carrick put Manchester United behind, but two goals to Memphis Depay and a late sealer to Marouane Fellaini gave them a 3-1 win over Club Brugge.
Estadio Jose Alvalade, Lisbon: A late goal to Islam Slimani gave Sporting the advantage over CSKA Moscow, after earlier goals to Teofilo Gutierrez for the hosts and Seydou Doumbia for CSKA.

Rome – Stadio Olimpico
Lazio 1 (Keita 77)
Bayer Leverkusen 0
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Swe)

Lazio: Berisha – Basta, De Vrij (Gentiletti 89), Mauricio, Lulic, Onazi (Milinkovic-Savic 53), Biglia, Parolo, Candreva, Klose (Keita 46), Felipe Anderson.
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno – Hilbert, Papadopoulos, Tah, Wendell, Bellarabi, Bender, Kramer, Son (Mehmedi 46), Hakan Calhanoglu (Brandt 84), Kiessling (Kruse 92).

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