Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Union Saint-Gilloise: Wirtz denies underdogs another Bundesliga scalp


Florian Wirtz of Bayer 04 Leverkusen scores the team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal first leg match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Royale Union Saint-Gilloise at BayArena on April 13, 2023 in Leverkusen, Germany.

A fine finish from Florian Wirtz rescued Bayer Leverkusen a 1-1 draw at home to Union Saint-Gilloise in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Wirtz struck in the 82nd minute just when it appeared a wasteful Leverkusen performance would make them the latest victims of Union’s sensational fairy-tale story.

In the Belgian second tier just two years ago and now enjoying their first European campaign since 1964-65, Union had already eliminated another Bundesliga side in namesakes Union Berlin.

Victor Boniface scored twice in the away leg of that last-16 tie and added a sixth Europa League goal of the season when he calmly steered a low finish past Lukas Hradecky from the left-hand side of the penalty area six minutes into the second half on Thursday.

The closest either team had come to scoring prior to that had been when Jonathan Tah unwittingly divert the ball against his own crossbar with his elbow from an Union corner.

Leverkusen did not lack endeavour, but the requisite quality was missing until Wirtz fired in a potentially vital equaliser from outside the area.

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