Roma will play Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa Conference League final after club top-scorer Tammy Abraham headed the winner to beat Leicester City 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate at the Stadio Olimpico.
Giallorossi boss Jose Mourinho outwitted Leicester counterpart Brendan Rodgers — who was on his coaching staff at Chelsea — as Roma denied the dangerous Foxes a single shot on target in a confident first-half display.
Lorenzo Pellegrini had already made Kasper Schmeichel save his awkward free-kick by the time the Roma captain delivered a pinpoint corner towards Abraham in front of goal in the 11th minute.
The cross was a gift for the striker who had scored on eight previous occasions in the competition this season, and he accepted the opportunity with an unstoppable header past Schmeichel to give Roma the lead in front of around 60,000 boisterous home supporters.
Full time! Roma 1-0 Leicester City
Mourinho has done it yet again, a commanding performance sees the Lupetti triumph over the foxes 🐺
They’ll meet Feyenoord in the #UECL final 🏆 pic.twitter.com/q3ekCOG2Eu
Toiling on the flanks while looking susceptible to counterattacks, Leicester urgently needed change. Rodgers provided it when he replaced Ademola Lookman with Daniel Amartey and Harvey Barnes with Kelechi Iheanacho at the break, and the result was a noticeable shift in intensity from the visitors, fearing the end of a long European campaign.
What they still lacked was accuracy, and Roma continued to look comfortable as they waited out the initial waves of attacks, letting Leicester have more possession while lurking for chances of their own.
Maddison and Iheanacho eventually drew saves from Rui Patricio during the closing stages, but the goalkeeper was not troubled by either effort and had a quiet evening as Roma extended their unbeaten home run in UEFA club competition to 19 games.
Rodgers looked crestfallen at the end, consoling his players after they failed to land a glove on Roma. Mourinho, who had willed his players on strenuously throughout, enters his second year in charge knowing that he will lead his squad to the final in Tirana on May 25. He is the first coach to reach the finals of the Conference League, Europa League and Champions League.
A post shared by The Sporting News 🇬🇧 (@sportingnewsuk)
11 mins – Tammy Abraham (ROM)
95 mins: ROMA REACH THE EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE FINAL! Match-winner Abraham and his teammates sink to the turf with joy after progressing via a confident display and an underwhelming Leicester performance tonight. Roma are will face Feyenoord in the final in Tirana on May 25!
4 – José Mourinho is the first manager to reach the final of a major European competition with four different clubs, having done so with Porto (UEFA Cup & Champions League), Inter (Champions League), Man Utd (Europa League) and now Roma (Europa Conference League). Special. pic.twitter.com/fTRYaCVA6k
94 mins: Sergio Oliveira tries to catch Schmeichel out, hammering a shot towards the near post from distance on the right. Schmeichel parries the effort behind.
94 mins: Now Maddison whips a poor cross low into the penalty area. Roma clear easily, and swiftly win a free-kick well inside Leicester territory. Mourinho advances from his technical area and gives Sergio Oliveira a pat, barking something at his player.
92 mins: Maddison sends a shot wide. We’ve seen more than two of the five allocated minutes of added time here. Leicester look a little weary but win a free-kick inside Roma territory on the right. Goalkeeper Schmeichel is considering joining the attack for this.
86 mins: Maddison wins a corner on the left. Every Leicester player is in the Roma penalty area. Mourinho is looking at a tablet screen in his technical area as he prepares to make another substitution.
83 mins: Leicester’s second shot on target of the night bears similarities to their first, Iheanacho curling a shot from distance into the arms of Rui Patricio in the centre of his goal.
81 mins: Abraham is making swooping gestures with his hands to gee up the Roma fans for one last push that he hopes will propel the hosts to the final.
The England hopeful has been excellent tonight, and his gesture could be a reflection of the sapping conditions.
80 mins: Veretout has replaced the impressive Zaniolo for Roma. Zalewski then finds himself in space inside the Leicester penalty area on the left, cutting inside and seeing his shot repelled by substitute Castagne.
79 mins: Leicester have had a shot on target! This won’t give them a great deal of encouragement, Maddison curling in a shot from outside the area that bounces kindly for Rui Patricio in the centre of his goal following some crafty footwork by Tielemans.
77 mins: Perez replaces Dewsbury-Hall for Leicester, who are clearly throwing everything into their bid to stay in the competition. The game resumes before Mourinho can make his changes.
🦊 Will Leicester find a late equaliser?#UECL pic.twitter.com/dopcOiXvlU
76 mins: This has been a quiet period, which will suit Roma nicely. More changes are being readied.
70 mins: Dewsbury-Hall detonates a shot from distance again, flashing his effort comfortably wide. Rui Patricio has started to take his time with goal-kicks, knowing his side are 20 minutes away from the final. The referee has a word.
67 mins: Another Leicester attack ends in a goal-kick for Rui Patricio. All the talk today is of the speed with which a game can turn after Real Madrid’s remarkable comeback in the Champions League last night – the problem for Leicester is, you do need to have attempts on target to have a chance.
64 mins: Pellegrini curls in his latest inviting corner, this time from the right following that clearance by Justin. Abraham meets the cross, sending his header over the crossbar from the centre of the penalty area.
The renewed intent Leicester showed at the start of this half is being deflated by Roma’s adroit tactics. Mourinho embraces Sergio Oliveira while having a word with him on the touchline.
62 mins: Pellegrini looks up from the halfway line and plays a piercing, low diagonal pass into the feet of Karsdorp inside the penalty area on the right, cutting out Justin.
The defender recovers to see Karsdorp’s attempted cross behind, but that’s a reminder that Roma remain dangerous. The home fans are understandably happy.
🟨FORZA FORZA LA ROMA! FORZA ROMA ALÉ!🟥 pic.twitter.com/7Qra8pa9jS
59 mins: Maddison catches Roma out by drilling an outswinging corner from the right low into the feet of Vardy on the right of the penalty area.
The deadly striker has space but can only plough a shot into Abraham.
58 mins: Dewsbury-Hall looks up outside the Roma penalty area to the left of centre, then blasts a fierce shot wide of the far post. Rodgers applauds, knowing that’s better from Leicester – albeit still lacking accuracy.
56 mins: Stats check: Leicester have had 55 percent of possession, resulting in four goal attempts to Roma’s seven. The visitors have a superior passing accuracy (83 to Roma’s 74 percent) and have completed almost 100 passes more than their opponents.
53 mins: Ranieri looks emotional as both sets of fans loudly applaud him after his face appears on the big screen, offering his own hand clap as he looks up.
The veteran coach is hugely popular at both clubs, having won the Premier League at Leicester and twice managed Roma, where he began his playing career in 1973.
50 mins: A year and a day into his Roma tenure, Mourinho, almost reassuringly, has his arms outstretched as he complains about an officiating decision.
Vardy tries to cause trouble on the left and ends up on the floor. It would be charitable to say that Leicester are knocking on the door; Roma look comfortable and Rui Patricio is still yet to be troubled.
A 𝐌𝐀𝐒𝐒𝐈𝐕𝐄 second period. Come on City! 🔵 ✊#RmaLei #UECL
48 mins: Leicester win a corner on the left. Maddison swings it in and Roma clear. Dewsbury-Hall then reaches the byline on the left and wins another corner, which his side again waste.
46 mins: We’re back underway – and Leicester have made two changes! Rodgers’ revisions reflect their travails on the flanks in that half, Lookman making way for Amartey and Iheanacho replacing Barnes.
It’s not entirely clear yet how that might translate tactically. They may become more direct. Meanwhile, Roma win a corner on the right, which Leicester deal with.
Half time – Roma 1-0 Leicester: Roma take a slender lead into the break, and Mourinho – who was squatting on the sideline as he instructed his players towards the end of the half – could not have asked for a more composed 45 minutes from his players.
Disciplined and persistently dangerous on the counterattack, the Serie A side looked comfortable despite Leicester having more of the ball. Rodgers will be tempted to make changes with a semifinal exit looming if Leicester cannot create more in the final third.
45 mins: Dewsbury-Hall raids down the left to such a faltering extent that Zaniolo almost chases him back into his own half with the ball, such is the forward’s tenacity. Leicester have had plenty of play inside Roma’s half but are running out of time if they are to make it count before the break.
42 mins: Barnes attempts to race into space and watches the ball run behind. That’s been the story for Leicester on the wings in this first half.
38 mins: Leicester have had 54 percent of the possession so far. Roma have had all three of the shots on target.
🐺 9 UECL goals for Roma’s no.9 🤩#UECL pic.twitter.com/L0gtj2HjWE
35 mins: Leicester have a spell of possession inside Roma’s half, looking neat on the ball before eventually losing it.
They build another attack from the back, culminating in Pereira swinging in a delivery from level with the penalty area on the right. Rui Patricio advances well off his line and clutches the cross to his chest.
32 mins: Roma continue to look more dangerous when they attack. Abraham shows neat footwork to move himself out of a tight spot deep in Leicester territory, setting up Zaniolo for a shot inside the penalty area on the right.
Fofana blocks the effort behind, and Abraham comes close to making contact with Pellegrini’s ensuing corner, which is a little high for him to connect with.
29 mins: Lookman, not for the first time tonight, tries to burst down the right without success. The scorer in the first leg pokes the ball ahead of himself and attempts to scamper free, finding himself thwarted by Ibanez as he chases down a corridor which ends in a Roma goal-kick.
27 mins: There are a few protests in the crowd after Vardy races after Ibanez and puts in a tough but fair-looking challenge for the ball. Characteristic determination from the forward, and possibly an expression of his frustration at the way the game has gone so far.
25 mins: Abraham’s goal was the 400th in the UEFA Europa Conference League in its maiden campaign. The former Chelsea striker has nine in 12 games in the competition.
He’s one behind Cyriel Dessers in the Conference League scoring charts. Dessers’ Feyenoord are currently drawing 0-0 at Marseille, retaining their 3-2 aggregate lead for the moment.
23 mins: Lookman tries to race onto an overhit through ball. Leicester are going to have to take chances now, which is a dangerous game when Roma are clearly ready to capitalise on space at the back.
🟡🔴 Tammy Abraham climbs highest to put Roma ahead 💪#UECL pic.twitter.com/2Mr6ErmLe6
19 mins: Maddison is fouled beyond the centre circle, ending up with a lick of white paint on his face. Pellegrini, continuing the theme, almost creates a scoring opportunity with a cross from the left, only for the offside flag to be raised.
17 mins: Roma are rampant down the left. This time, Zalewski plays a terrific first time pass from just inside the Leicester half, looping the ball over Leicester’s defenders and onto the run of Pellegrini.
Schmeichel is equal to the captain’s shot, beating the ball behind at his near post. That flank will be the early area of concern for Rodgers and the away fans.
A post shared by The Sporting News 🇬🇧 (@sportingnewsuk)
14 mins: Maddison does little with another corner on the left. Leicester have had enough set pieces, squandering them in the opening 15 minutes.
A towering header!
#ASRoma #UECL #RomaLCFC pic.twitter.com/Jt9loMYnXe
12 mins: Leicester almost respond immediately, Dewsbury-Hall bending a blistering shot beyond the far post from the edge of the Roma penalty area on the right.
This is some task facing the Premier League side now, attempting a comeback against a Roma team, as we mentioned earlier, on a foreboding run of 18 UEFA club competition games unbeaten at this iconic stadium.
11 mins: GOAL ROMA! Tammy Abraham! There were serious warning signs for Leicester before the goal, Zalewski again profiting on the left and Pellegrini firing in a shot from outside the penalty area that was deflected wide of Schmeichel’s right-hand post.
Pellegrini swings in a superbly inviting corner from the right, landing straight on the head of Abraham in front of goal, rising expertly above Pereira, who has had a torrid opening spell. Schmeichel has no chance with such a powerful header from that range. 1-0!
8 mins: Roma go close! Pellegrini curls a powerful shot towards the near post from the free-kick, which Schmeichel palms into the ground, likely watching with some relief as the ball spins up off the sodden turf and over the crossbar.
Smalling then heads over the crossbar from Roma’s corner on the right.
7 mins: Zalewski is fouled by Pereira right on the edge of the Leicester penalty area on Roma’s left-hand side. This is a real opportunity for the hosts.
5 mins: A VAR check appears to take place. Smalling appeared to have his arms around Fofana inside the penalty area as that corner came in, and the Foxes defender went to ground.
In another area of the pitch, that might well have earned a free-kick. There doesn’t seem to have been enough in it to merit an early penalty, despite Leicester’s protests.
4 mins: Leicester have a corner on their left following that robust intervention from Oliveira. Maddison swings it in, hanging the delivery over the heads of everyone.
2 mins: Justin has a first run at the Roma defence through the centre on the left. Oliveira dispossesses him, sending the defender tumbling awkwardly.
The medical team are attending to Justin while Maddison takes a swig of some orange liquid. The physio attending to him appears to ask the referee for a moment.
1 min: Leicester, in mint, start us off! Their first attack, from left to right, is wayward, sailing out for a Roma goal-kick.
The atmosphere being created by the 60,000 or so Roma fans is sensational at a rainy Stadio Olimpico. Splendid scenes.
5 mins from KO: The teams are in the tunnel. The obligatory fireworks and music display is taking place. Claudio Ranieri is here. The flags are waving. We’re almost ready to go!
A familiar face for both clubs is at Stadio Olimpico tonight… pic.twitter.com/t5d3r9VfiR
15 mins from KO: Rodgers looks excited. “It’s brilliant – the Olympic Stadium in Rome, the pitch looks really good. It’s a great environment for the game,” he tells BT Sport, gazing around and being interrupted by what he describes as a “great noise.”
“You’ve got to be careful of their counterattack. It’s one where [Justin] will do well – he’s super-fast. Jose’s great strength is finding a cause – and if he can’t find one, he manufactures one. It’s a great game, a great occasion and we’re looking forward to it.”
30 mins from KO: A wolf wants the Foxes to fail tonight: Romolo has been parading around the edge of the pitch and encouraging home fans.
Roma’s devoted wolf mascot was originally introduced in 1999 but did not become a regular until they were reinvented in 2019.
Anche Romolo ha portato la bandiera!#RomaLCFC pic.twitter.com/5HYANX5cj0
A fiery welcome to the arena! 🔥
#ASRoma #UECL #RomaLCFC pic.twitter.com/Yrdz1eg8jg
45 mins from KO: Looks like Roma fans have given their team a more-than-warm welcome.
Mourinho’s men are currently fifth with three league games to go of his first season in charge – a position that would send them into the Europa League next season, although they are only above Lazio on goal difference and can’t catch fourth-placed Juventus.
The toughest-looking remaining Serie A game of their campaign is on Monday at Fiorentina, who are three points behind Roma in seventh. They also host bottom side Venezia and travel to Torino, who are currently tenth.
1 hour from kickoff: “We controlled the game and it sets it up nicely,” says Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. “But we obviously need to be ruthless.
“We need to tighten up in those moments. They had two chances and they scored one of them. We have to eliminate that and be clinical when we get ours.”
1 hour 10 mins from kickoff: Mourinho goes for a 4-3-2-1 or 3-4-1-2 system. Competition top scorer Abraham and his teammates have gone for personal style tactics of smart casual this evening: they’ve arrived at the stadium wearing black suits and trainers.
🐺 Our XI for tonight! 👊
#ASRoma #UECL #RomaLCFC pic.twitter.com/x8OYEPCT4l
1 hour 15 mins from kickoff: The teams are in! Leicester make two changes from last week, Justin and Barnes replacing Castagne and Albrighton. Rodgers appears to be adopting a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 formation, with Vardy as the spearhead.
Here’s your Leicester team news from Rome! 📋#RmaLei #UECL pic.twitter.com/WFnyMbXfsQ
1 hour 30 mins from kickoff: Rodgers has cited Mourinho as a major influence on his career as a result of their time together at Chelsea, and the former Champions League winner voiced his delight at the Leicester boss buying him a very expensive bottle of Portuguese wine last week.
In return, Rodgers has asked for a gift of tea tonight. “To be honest, I bought him a very nice gift,” revealed Mourinho. “But because he wants tea, I can keep the gift for me and I can give him tea. That’s no problem.”
1 hour 45 mins from kickoff: That unbeaten 18-game run for Roma in UEFA competition games at home includes 11 wins and seven draws, including a 4-0 win over Bodø/Glimt in the quarterfinals.
The Norwegian club had been a bogey side for Roma in the competition this season, beating them in the group stage and in the first leg of their knockout stage tie.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve built a bond between ourselves and the fans,” says Roma manager Jose Mourinho, who has issued a rallying cry to the home supporters at the Stadio Olimpico, which has a capacity of more than 70,000. “We have been together for more or less 10 months now, in the good moments and the bad. But we’ve stayed together, with a real spirit between us.”
2 hours from kickoff: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News’ coverage of one of the most tough-to-call, enticing games remaining on the European calendar this season. Leicester dominated last week’s first leg by almost all measures except the scoreline, although their eight shots off target to Roma’s one tells a story of wastefulness that they could rue in Rome.
The Premier League side now need to do something no visitors have managed in the last 18 UEFA club competition matches at Roma’s Stadio Olimpico: win.
MORE: Leicester vs. Roma result: Foxes battle back in Conference League semifinal draw
Roma are without Armenia star Henrikh Mkhitaryan after he was forced off injured in the first leg. Jordan Veretout is a candidate to replace him in the starting lineup, although Mourinho hinted he could alter his system to make up for Mkhitaryan’s absence.
The former Manchester United boss rested a string of key names for their 0-0 weekend Serie A draw with Bologna ahead of the visit of Leicester.
Roma line-up (3-4-1-2): Patricio (GK) — Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez – Karsdorp, Sergio Oliveira, Cristante, Zalewski – Pellegrini – Zaniolo, Abraham
Subs: Fuzato, Vina, Carlos Perez, Shomurodov, Spinazzola, Maitland-Niles, Veretout, Bove, Diaware, Afena-Gyan, El-Shaarawy, Kumbula
Rodgers makes two changes, Justin and Barnes coming in for Castagne and Albrighton. Maddison and Dewsbury-Hall are fit to start following fitness concerns earlier in the week.
Leicester City (4-3-3): Schmeichel (GK) — Justin, Evans, Fofana, Pereira — Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall — Lookman, Vardy, Barnes.
Subs: Soyuncu, Albrighton, Ward, Iheanacho, Ayoze, Amartey, Choudhury, Vestergaard, Castagne, Daka, Thomas, Soumare
In the US, televised Europa Conference League games are available on fuboTV, which also offers a free trial to new subscribers.
In Canada, all Europa Conference League games are streamed live on DAZN.
MORE: Premier League top goal scorers 2021-2022: Updated golden boot rankings
This tie is evenly poised ahead of the second leg, especially with away goals no longer a factor, but both sides are winless in their past four games in all competitions (Leicester’s run actually stands at five games).
Roma look well placed to seal a Europa League spot via Serie A this season, but Leicester’s Premier League woes place them in an all-or-nothing situation, and Rodgers’ side have won both of their away second-leg games in the knockout stages of this season’s Europa Conference League.