Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Leverkusen nerves prove costly once more

18 March 2015, 14:10

London - Bayer Leverkusen failed once more to hold their nerve in a crucial game, going out on penalties against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16.

Leverkusen, nicknamed 'Neverkusen' for narrowly missing out on silverware over the years, last reached the quarter-finals of the competition in 2002 when they went all the way to the final before losing to Real Madrid.

Not many favoured Leverkusen to advance but after their first leg 1-0 win in Germany courtesy of Hakan Calhanoglu's goal, hopes of finally ending their losing run in the round of 16 were ignited.

Roger Schmidt's team have been playing a good season in the Bundesliga, sitting in fourth place with their exciting brand of quick, counter-attacking football with the addition of Calhanoglu and Karim Bellarabi this season.

The Spanish champions, losing finalists last season, were in no way spectacular in the first leg and were on the backfoot again on Tuesday until they scored following some sloppy defending midway through the first half.

But Leverkusen failed to make possession count and then missed three penalties in the shootout after the game ended 1-0 after extra time.

Their opponents were equally bad from the spot, missing two penalties themselves before striker Stefan Kiessling sent a wild effort over the crossbar with the Bundesliga side's fifth penalty to send Atletico through.

"We were not courageous enough," said Leverkusen defender Gonzalo Castro. "You could see that some of us were very sad and lost in their thoughts. But we worked hard before we let in a stupid goal that should normally not happen."

Indicative of their lack of mental strength was the weak penalty taken by Calhanoglu, by far the best Leverkusen player this season and a hugely talented midfielder.

The 21-year-old Turkey international simply rolled the ball into the hands of keeper Jan Oblak, choking at the worst possible moment this season and crushing Leverkusen's dream of a successful European run after more than a decade.

"Obviously being eliminated on penalties has a bit to do with nerves," said coach Schmidt. "It would have been easier taking penalties in our own stadium."

"The fans' noise maybe made my players a bit more nervous. Hakan should write off his penalty because the team put up a great fight."

With Bayern Munich awaiting in the German Cup quarter-finals and Schalke 04 in the league on Saturday, Leverkusen have enough big games ahead to make amends for their European exit.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
What do men mean when they say th...

As much as men think they are the ones confused by relationships, they have a better idea of it than most women actually do. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
DP Ruto, not Kenneth the main man...

DP William Ruto will be the main man for the Jubilee Party in 2022, Kiraitu Murungi insists. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Jittery times for DP Ruto as Kenn...

Peter Kenneth is a genuine threat to DP William Ruto's 2022 State House bid... and the DP's allies know it. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
I will name those sabotaging DP R...

A Jubilee Party Governor says that he will name and shame those within Jubilee he says are undermining DP William Ruto's 2022 State House plans. Read more...

ODM official acquitted of defilem...

A Nakuru ODM official on Thursday broke into tears after the court acquitted him of defilement charges leveled against him by his 15-year-old cousin. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Man who attacked US Embassy a 24 ...

A man who attacked the US Embassy in Nairobi was a 24 year old from Wajir County. Read more...