Ferencvaros European adventure came to halt last night as they were swept aside by an impressive Bayer Leverkusen. The Germans held a two goal advantage from the first leg and put the tie beyond doubt within the 5 minutes in Budapest thanks to Moussa Diaby’s early goal.
The home side went into the game facing an uphill struggle to qualify for the Europa League quarter-finals after falling to a 2-0 defeat in Leverkusen last week. While their hopes of turning the tie were hampered by the absence of half a dozen first-team regulars, both Cherchesov and Dibusz spoke with confidence about their chances at their pre-match press conference.
The key was to use the energy of the crowd and be more ruthless in front of goal; they had created chances in the first game, so why not in the return? An early Fradi goal and the backing of a packed Puskas Arena could inspire a momentous come back.
Diaby Puts Fradi to the Sword
Alas, the early goal that duly arrived was scored by Leverkusen’s Moussa Diaby. A goal that silenced the Puskas and killed, stone dead, Fradi’s hopes of a comeback before the crowd had fully settled in their seats.
A simple ball over the top turned the Ferencvaros defence and offered Diaby half the length of the park to bear down on goal. The Frenchman easily beat Knoster for pace before cooly finishing past Dibusz.
The goal rocked Ferencvaros who suffered another set back shortly after when Henry Wingo had to leave the field with a suspected hamstring injury. The American was replaced by Marquinhos with Zachariassen filling in at full back against the rampaging Mitchell Bakker.
Leverkusen, buoyed by the goal, settled into a rhythm of attacking dominance, seamlessly rotating between systems and posing Ferencvaros problems with their pace, movement, and technical ability.
Towards the end of the Fradi fought desperately to get back into the tie. The disappointing Gojak was denied by Hradecky at point blank range while Traore saw an effort agonisingly rebound back off the cross bar.
Bayer too Strong
Leverkusen reasserted their authority after the break, dominating proceedings. Jeremie Frimpong thought he had doubled Bayer’s lead 7 minutes into the half only for the goal to be ruled out for an offside against Bakker.
With legs tiring after an exhausting evening the Fradi defence eventually did give up a second with 9 minutes remaining. Diaby turning provider this time with a perfectly weighted pass for Adli as the visitors swiftly countered.
After 16 games that started with a goalless draw in Kazakhstan against Tobol Kostanay in Champions League Qualifying, Fradi’s European dream was over. The fans, to their credit, stayed behind to acknowledge the efforts of their team.
Post-match, Stanislav Cherchesov spoke of his appreciation of the supporters and his determination that next season it will be the Champions League last 16 Ferencvaros will achieve, not the Europa League.
Footnote: While Ferencvaros European exploits this season have been a fantastic success, the actions of certain fans cannot go ignored. On at least occasions last night – once after Adli’s goal, and later at a corner kick – objects were thrown from the Ferencvaros support towards Leverkusen players.
This kind of action has no place in football or modern society, and only serves to drag down the reputation of the vast majority of football fans who attend the games to support their team – not attack their rivals.
Given the amount of security cameras at the Puskas Arena we can only hope the culprits can be identified and rooted out.