By Wale Mustapha
Nigerian striker, Victor Boniface scored an injury time penalty to secure all match points for Bayer Leverkusen prevailing by 1-0 win over Qarabaq that sealed their qualification to the knockout stage of UEFA Europa League.
The Die Werkself were truly favorites heading to the fixture on Thursday being the leaders in both the Bundesliga and the Group H of the European competition.
However, the early moments of the match was far cry of the expectations as the hosts were more determined and gave a good account of themselves.
Qarabaq were so close to take a first half lead but left to rue the chances from Juninho and Yassine Benzia.
Leverkusen’s manager, Xabi Alonso tweaked his team at the restart providing more men in attack which handed the visitors more control and hope of getting a victory.
The game was heading to stalemate as Qarabaq were still holding on at the back thwarting all efforts thrown at them until the final minute of the match when Maksim Medvedev handled Alejandro Grimaldo’s header at the back post.
Boniface who has been wasteful with few chances he’s seen, composed himself well from 12 yards to clinch the win for Leverkusen and registered his third goal of the competition.
Leverkusen have now won all of their previous 10 matches and are now all but assured of top spot.
Qarabag, meanwhile, are still in a strong position to reach the next stage of the competition – a win against Molde next time out would get the job done.