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Leverkusen strike late to extend historic unbeaten run, reach UEL final

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Bayer Leverkusen kept their treble chase alive Thursday by beating Roma 4-2 on aggregate to reach the Europa League final, but it took another last-gasp effort to preserve their unbeaten season and reach the tournament's showpiece.

The Bundesliga champions were down 2-0 at home in the second leg and the tie was level at 2-2 on aggregate. However, a Gianluca Mancini own goal in the 83rd minute and Josip Stanisic's 97th-minute finish added more drama and joy to a scarcely believable season for Xabi Alonso's men.

Leverkusen's unbeaten streak now stands at 49 matches since the start of the campaign. For European teams competing in both domestic and continental competitions, it's the longest unbeaten run since the European Cup began in 1955.

Benfica's previous mark of 48 was established between 1963 and 1965.

Club Country Streak Years
Bayer Leverkusen Germany 49 2023-2024
Benfica Portugal 48 1963-1965
Dinamo Zagreb Croatia 45 2014-2015
Rijeka Croatia 45 2016-2017
Rangers Scotland 44 1992-1993

"We had chances to score goals early and didn't - but hey we will in Dublin," Leverkusen boss Alonso told RTL. "It was a special evening. There were tense moments but it showed the personality and the mentality of the team."

Right-back Stanisic has extended Leverkusen's unbeaten record twice this season - he also notched an equalizer at the death against Borussia Dortmund - and other players have chipped in to prolong both the run and the team's path to glory.

Leverkusen have scored 14 goals after the 90th minute this term.

"We didn't know ourselves how we were 2-0 behind," midfielder Granit Xhaka said. "To come back against a team like this is unbelievable - our desire is incredible. We're in the final, we're on our way to making our dream a reality and will do everything to bring the trophy back to Leverkusen."

After clinching the Bundesliga's Meisterschale in mid-April with five matches to spare, Leverkusen can complete an improbable treble with victorious finals in the Europa League (against Atalanta on May 22) and the DFB-Pokal (against second-tier Kaiserslautern on May 25).

Leverkusen hadn't won a major trophy in 31 years before this season.

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