Moussa Diaby struck a brilliant goal to see off Rangers and earn Bayer Leverkusen a shot at Inter in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The French forward eased any Leverkusen nerves with his 51st-minute strike, securing a 1-0 win on the night and 4-1 aggregate success in the last-16 tie.

Kai Havertz had earlier gone close for the Bundesliga side, hitting the Rangers crossbar and sending another chance off target.

Rangers never looked capable of undoing the damage they sustained in the first leg, which was played at Ibrox in March, days before large parts of Europe went into lockdown.

It meant Steven Gerrard's side bowed out, but they at least produced a respectable performance at the BayArena, against opponents whose most recent game had been a DFB-Pokal final defeat to Bayern Munich.

Havertz, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder who may be in the final stages of his Leverkusen career, showed why the likes of Chelsea fancy him when a sublime attempt hit the Rangers crossbar early on.

He should then probably have done better after taking on a pass from Lars Bender but shot wide of the right post, but Havertz remained lively and fed Diaby for a sight of goal, only for the finish to go astray.

Diaby made amends for that miss in terrific fashion after the break, cushioning a pass delivered from halfway by Charles Aranguiz with his chest and burying a thumping finish high into Allan McGregor's net.

Leverkusen coasted from that point, preserving their energy for the clash with Serie A giants Inter on Monday in Dusseldorf, where a semi-final place will be at stake.

Bayer Leverkusen swept aside overmatched minnows Saarbrucken to reach the final of the DFB-Pokal with a 3-0 away win.

Saarbrucken were declared champions of their truncated Regionalliga Sudwest campaign – week-by-week consistency having gone hand in hand with an incredible cup run – when Germany's lower categories were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It meant the fourth-tier side had not played for more than three months by the time Leverkusen, fifth in the Bundesliga, arrived at Hermann-Neuberger-Stadion.

Despite the likes of Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey sitting out the contest entirely, Peter Bosz's men were 2-0 up inside 19 minutes thanks to Moussa Diaby and Lucas Alario, with Karim Bellarabi getting in on the scoring act after half-time.

Kerem Demirbay had an early shot deflected wide before a sublime chipped pass from the playmaker found a swivelling Diaby to volley the 11th-minute opener.

Alario capitalised on a defensive mix-up to lash home at the near post and effectively end the contest, with the opening half continuing to take place almost exclusively inside the Saarbrucken half thereafter.

Paulinho clipped a clever effort beyond goalkeeper Daniel Batz and narrowly wide of the left-hand post after Alario opened up the home defence.

Saarbrucken bodies were launched in the direction of Mitchell Weiser's 42nd-minute drive to help keep the deficit down at the break.

A double substitution robbed Leverkusen of their fluency during the opening stages of the second half, although any whiff of encouragement was snuffed out when Demirbay teed up one of the replacements, Bellarabi, to slam home from inside the box.

Paulinho exchanged passes with another substitute, Kevin Volland, to lash over in the 72nd minute before Batz saved sharply from the latter and Markus Mendler scuffed a wonderful chance for a memorable Saarbrucken consolation.

 

What does it mean? Lockdown shuts the door on Saarbrucken's dreams

Saarbrucken's improbable run to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal captured hearts and minds across German football but circumstances dictated their bid for one more memorable night was inevitably forlorn. A fourth-tier club taking on Champions League aspirants would require everything to fall in their favour at the best of times, but Lukas Kwasniok's men being forced to spend 94 days without match practice, as COVID-19 brought their league competition to a premature close, left them playing out a hopeless if noble endeavour.

Demirbay shows there can be life after Havertz

Havertz sat out Tuesday's tie as a precaution, allowing him to bask in being one of the hottest properties in Europe. A host of big hitters are purportedly lining up to take the Germany international off Bosz's hands, but the Leverkusen coach's trademark expansive style remained in good order without his talisman. That owed much to the mesmeric Demirbay, who created each of his side's goals.

Batz flaps unhelpfully

Batz will forever be remembered as the superhero of this Saarbrucken run, having saved a penalty in normal time and a remarkable four more during the quarter-final shoot-out against Fortuna Dusseldorf. It was unfortunate, therefore, to see him fail to claim Demirbay's cross and collide with Manuel Zeitz – allowing Alario to make it 2-0. There was no way back from there.

What's next?

Bayern Munich or Eintracht Frankfurt await in the final for Leverkusen, who were swatted aside 4-2 by the reigning Bundesliga champions at the weekend. Saarbrucken's next meaningful action will take place in 3.Liga – a fitting reward for their superb 2019-20.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly set to rival Real Madrid for Erling Haaland, while Barcelona continue to consider their moves.

Haaland has starred this season and moved to Borussia Dortmund in January, but the forward is already being strongly linked with a move away.

While the Norway international is apparently a key target for Madrid, it seems PSG also like the forward, who scored against them in the last 16 of this season's Champions League.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE REAL MADRID TARGET HAALAND

PSG could threaten Madrid's pursuit of Haaland, according to the cover of Marca.

The Ligue 1 giants are looking at the 19-year-old with Kylian Mbappe's contract expiring in 2022 and the futures of Edinson Cavani and Mauro Icardi uncertain.

Haaland has scored 13 goals in 12 games for Dortmund this season, with two of those strikes coming in BVB's 2-1 win over PSG at Signal Iduna Park in the first leg of the Champions League's last 16.

PSG went through in the return leg, with the team – led by Neymar – mocking Haaland's meditation celebration at full-time.

ROUND-UP

- At Barcelona, there is uncertainty over how the club can land Inter star Lautaro Martinez as well as Juventus pair Miralem Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio. Sport says Barca have seven players they are prepared to sell to get deals done for the trio – Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Carles Alena, Rafinha and Nelson Semedo. It also reports Inter are hoping to sign Vidal, but not as part of a deal for Martinez.

- Staying at Camp Nou, and Mundo Deportivo reports Barca considered signing Tottenham star Harry Kane before turning their attentions to Martinez.

- Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz continues to attract plenty of interest. The Sun claims Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have joined Bayern Munich in the battle for the attacker, while Le 10 Sport says Madrid are also keen on the Germany international.

- Madrid could be busy during the close season. AS understands they are following Lille defender Gabriel as an alternative to RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano.

- With his contract expiring at the end of the campaign, Layvin Kurzawa looks likely to leave PSG. Sport reports Atletico Madrid have joined the list of teams who want the left-back.

- Moussa Diaby has scored four goals and provided five assists for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this season. Le 10 Sport believes Arsenal and Dortmund have asked about the 20-year-old winger.

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