BAYER Leverkusen winger Amine Adli has admitted his side got lucky in their last Europa League match against Celtic and revealed he is expecting a far closer encounter at the BayArena tomorrow evening.

The French player scored a goal in the last minute of the Group G match at Parkhead back in September as the Bundesliga giants ran out emphatic 4-0 winners against their Scottish opponents.

However, Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky pulled off a series of fine saves in Glasgow as the hosts put the visitors under intense pressure early on and his team mate knows the final scoreline was not a fair reflection of the balance of play.

The 21-year-old, who scored the winner in a league match against Bochum on Saturday, will be trying his hardest to help Gerard Seoane’s side prevail tomorrow evening and book their place in the last 16 of the competition.

“The key to success is to continue to play how we did in the last games in Europe League - with a lot of energy and fighting-mentality on the pitch,” he said. 

“Of course we were lucky once in a while. For example, in the match in Glasgow. Especially at the beginning of the game, Celtic had a lot of chances. But Lukas had a very good day and we scored at the right times. We should just keep on going.

“The game in Glasgow was very good for us. We scored four times. But, like I already said, our goalkeeper saved us in various moments.

“So our target should be to be as effective as we were in Glasgow in front of the opponents goal, but we should not make so many mistakes when we have the ball. For sure, we will do our very best in order to secure our position at the top of the table.”

Leverkusen are strong favourites to win against Celtic on Thursday night, but Adli, who should start up front alongside Florian Wirtz in the absence of Patrik Schick, is not underestimating the challenge which they face. 

Ange Postecoglou’s team have scored six goals on the road in the group stages of the Europa League this term – they lost 4-3 to Real Betis in Spain back in September and beat Ferencvaros 3-2 in Hungary earlier this month – and the wide man is anticipating an open encounter.

“We think it is a very strong team because they have a lot of players with high quality and a lot of experience,” he said. “They play very physical and with a lot of energy. So we have to counter it. I think, it will be a nice game to watch for the spectators with a lot of attacks. I am expecting a great game.”

Seoane, the Swiss coach who left Young Boys in his homeland and took over from Peter Bosz at Leverkusen in the summer, has come under pressure at the BayArena in recent weeks due to a disappointing run of form in the Bundesliga.

But Adli is convinced Die Werkself, who moved into fourth place in the table with their narrow weekend triumph, is optimistic about what the future holds both domestically and on the continent. 

“Things are going well,” he said. “Winning against Bochum this weekend was very important for us, because it has been a long time we did this the last time in Bundesliga. That gives us self-confidence and we feel that we are on the right path. But I also have to say we have always a good atmosphere and a good mentality in our squad.

“We don´t have a concrete goal for this competition. Of course we wanted to stay in the tournament throughout next year. But in general we think from game to game, step by step. And then we will see how far we can go in this campaign.”

The former Toulouse player is unused to playing in front of large crowds because he made his breathrough into the first team during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and he is looking forward to a match that is set to be played in front of a large travelling support.

“For me, everything is new, because last year when I started my professional career everything was closed,” he said.

“So now for me it is new and also very different. For example when there are difficult situations in the game, you hear all the fans or you hear how they sing and clap for us when we score. Also when you are tired, this feels very good, because it is like a new energy.

“And the team is just great, a lot of young and talented players. Of course we make mistakes and sometimes we should be more objective and less playful. But that is a matter of experience. We will improve.”