Roma beat Leicester to set up Conference League final vs. Feyenoord
Rome, May 5, 2022 (AFP) - Tammy Abraham fired Roma into the inaugural final of the Europa Conference League on Thursday with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Leicester City which put the Italian side through 2-1 on aggregate.
Abraham smashed home a powerful header in the 11th minute at a bouncing Stadio Olimpico in Rome to give Jose Mourinho's team their first European final in more than three decades, the first of the new competition.
They await Feyenoord in Tirana, Albania on May 25 after the Dutch side prevailed 3-2 in the other semi-final, and they will be backed by an army of supporters who got behind their team in stirring fashion.
Roma fans haven't seen their team win a trophy since 2008 and the roar let out at the final whistle was one of massive relief after spending much of the match on the back foot against the Foxes, themselves gunning for a first major continental final.
Brendan Rodgers' team ran into ground against a typically well-organised Mourinho side who were content to let Leicester do the running and try to pick the away side off on the break once their aggregate advantage was established early on.
Roma's last European final -- in the old UEFA Cup -- was lost to Inter Milan in 1991 and the pre-match atmosphere was as feverish as could be expected for one of Europe's most passionate and long-suffering fan bases.
A crowd of 65,000 had already been whipped up by a strong start for the home team when Abraham almost brought the roof off, meeting Lorenzo Pellegrini's corner with a header that flew past Kasper Schmeichel.
The England international's goal was just reward for Roma's enterprising start which featured smart Schmeichel stops but as the half wore on Leicester shook off the cobwebs and started to get a foothold.
From there the match settled into a pattern of Leicester trying to push past a well-organised Roma rearguard, initially without success as the away side didn't have a single shot on target in the opening period.
Leicester's first effort on target didn't come until 11 minutes from the end, when James Maddison's low dive was easily collected by Rui Patricio and after that the hosts had some decent opportunities themselves.
The impressive Nicola Zalewski had a decent shot charged down when a cross was deflected into his path and Roma began to gain some ground as Leicester tired from their ineffective efforts.
Leicester pushed for a leveller but as the whistles reached ear-splitting levels Roma held strong and once Pellegrini's long range effort was fumbled out for a corner the hosts knew they had done enough to write another chapter in the history of the Italian capital.
Feyenoord hold off Marseille
Feyenoord are through to their first European final in two decades after holding Marseille to a 0-0 draw in France on Thursday to win their Europa Conference League semi-final 3-2 on aggregate.
The Dutch club made good their victory in the first leg last week in Rotterdam to set up a clash with Jose Mourinho's Roma in the inaugural final of the new third-tier European competition.
That match will be played on May 25 in the Albanian capital Tirana, 250 kilometres away from where Feyenoord began their campaign against Drita of Kosovo in the qualifying rounds last July.
Marseille's hopes of turning the tie around were dealt a huge blow when playmaker Dimitri Payet was forced off injured before half-time at the Velodrome.
The home side were deprived of a part of their support with the stadium closed at one end by UEFA as a punishment following the trouble that marred their win over Greek club PAOK in the quarter-finals.
They rarely really looked like scoring after losing Payet and they are left to focus on their quest to finish in the top three in Ligue 1 and qualify for next season's Champions League.
Feyenoord failed to score in a game for the first time since January but did not need to after a Cyriel Dessers double and a deflected Luis Sinisterra strike gave them victory in the first leg.
The match against Roma will be their 19th game in the competition this season and they will be aiming to win their fourth European trophy.
The first Dutch club to win the European Cup when they beat Celtic 2-1 in the 1970 final, they then won the UEFA Cup in 1974 and again in 2002 when they defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in their own De Kuip stadium.