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Leverkusen's Bellarabi tames Lions again

Leverkusen 3-1 Sporting CP (agg: 4-1)
Karim Bellarabi once again tamed the Lions, his double at the BayArena making it three across the tie to secure passage for the Werkself.

Highlights: Leverkusen 3-1 Sporting
Highlights: Leverkusen 3-1 Sporting
  • Karim Bellarabi puts the hosts 2-0 up on aggregate on the half-hour
  • João Mário gives the visitors hope eight minutes later
  • Bellarabi and Hakan Çalhanoğlu thunderbolts wrap things up
  • Apply for tickets for the UEFA Europa League final at Basel's St. Jakob-Park
  • The round of 16 draw takes place on Friday, streamed live from 13.00CET

Two goals from Karim Bellarabi and a late Hakan Çalhanoğlu strike helped Leverkusen advance to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 as a 3-1 win over Sporting CP in Germany wrapped up the tie.

Both teams had promised an attacking approach in the build-up to the second leg and were as good as their word in the opening stages. Kyriakos Papadopoulos sent a header straight into Rui Patrício's arms, before Sporting captain William Carvalho curled an effort centimetres wide at the other end.

The hosts began to tighten their grip on this round of 32 contest as the first half wore on, though, and took the lead when Bellarabi's shot from a tight angle deflected off Patrício and over the line before a lurking Javier Hernández could get the final touch. Leverkusen's advantage lasted just eight minutes, however, as João Mário beat Bernd Leno at the far post after the keeper had saved Carlos Mané's initial effort.

Another goal for Jorge Jesus's charges would have put them ahead on away goals, yet Bellarabi gave the Lisbon side a mountain to climb with a sensational strike from the edge of the area which fizzed past the scrambling Patrício and into the top corner.

That second Bayer goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the visitors, whose fate was sealed with three minutes remaining when Çalhanoğlu thundered an unstoppable volley beyond Patrício from inside the box to secure the Bundesliga club's place in Friday's draw.

Key player: Karim Bellarabi
A week on, the same story. Bellarabi proved the difference between the teams across both legs. If the German international's strike in Lisbon and his first at the BayArena were somewhat fortuitous, there was nothing lucky about his second goal in Leverkusen which was worthy of winning any match.

Too hot to handle
Sporting's inability to cope with the pace and trickery of Hernández and Bellarabi cost the Portuguese giants dear in Leverkusen. The duo wreaked havoc among the visiting defence and combined to devastating effect for the 30th-minute breakthrough.

Sporting's encouraging display
The Lions' winless run on German soil goes on, although Jesus's side put up a good fight in Germany. The Portuguese Liga leaders looked particularly dangerous on the counterattack in the first half and controlled the first 20 minutes of the second, until Bellarabi's spectacular intervention took the wind out of their sails. Sporting's record in Germany now reads: P12 L11 W0.