Bayer 04 Leverkusen are the only Bundesliga club to have reached the semi-finals of a European Cup competition after a performance that was worthy of a title for most of the stretch and can dream of their first title in 30 years. One day after Bayern Munich were eliminated from the Champions League, the Werkself reached the semi-finals of the Europa League with a 4-1 (2-0) win in the second leg of the quarter-finals at Union Saint-Gilloise from Brussels.

The first leg against second-placed Belgium, who had knocked out 1. FC Union Berlin in the previous round, ended 1-1. Moussa Diaby put coach Xabi Alonso’s team ahead in Brussels after just 66 seconds, Mitchel Bakker (38′), Jeremie Frimpong (60′) and Adam Hlozek (79′) followed suit. The Belgians’ goal was scored by Casper Terho (64′).

Eintracht Frankfurt only ended the German wait for a title in the second most important European Cup after 25 years last year. Leverkusen had won the previous competition, the UEFA Cup, in 1988, and the last Bayer title ever was winning the DFB Cup in 1993. Bayer last reached the semi-finals of a European Cup 21 years ago. At that time, the Rhinelanders even advanced to the Champions League final, but lost it 2-1 against Real Madrid.

Eight minutes before the break, Bayer completed an outstanding attack worth seeing. One-two from Diaby and Wirtz this time in midfield, Diaby pulled up and served Hlozek, whose cross Bakker volleyed in the far corner. Saint-Gilles had at best a couple of half-chances before the break.

The hosts increased the pressure after the break, but the Leverkusen defense around Jonathan Tah, who had been strong for weeks, defended passionately and conscientiously. Bayer even upped the ante when Bakker successfully pressed Moris, the goalkeeper kicked the ball into Frimpong’s feet and he hit the empty goal. But the Belgians still didn’t give up and scored the goal and hit the bar through Simon Adingra (70′). Bayer’s fourth goal provided clarity, Hlozek scored with a scrape after a shot by Diaby.