The Giallorossi win the first round at the Olimpico
Roma wins the first round for 1-0 against German side Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final. A crowded Olympian in every order of place pushed Mourinho’s team, with many absences, to success in a balanced match especially in the first half. Then in the second half the great goal by Bove and a few other missed opportunities sealed the Giallorossi’s success. In a week, however, the finalist of the Europa League will be decided in Leverkusen. For the challenge of the Olimpico Mourinho with few choices available, he opts for Cristante on the line of defenders, with Bove starting in midfield with Matic. In attack, Pellegrini behind the Abraham-Belotti tandem. On the other hand, Xabi Alonso relies on Diaby-Wirtz behind Hlozek. Palacios in midfield with Frimpong and Hincapie on the wings.
Leverkusen started up front and in the 1st minute Hincapie set up Andrich but kicked badly and Rui Patricio blocked. Roma risked again in the 7th minute with Wirtz slipping in centrally, after a few rebounds, he triangulated in the area with Hlozek, and kicked to cross but the low shot grazed the post. Mou’s team takes the measures of the opponent and in the 19th minute almost takes the lead: on a free-kick by Pellegrini, a close-range header by Ibanez and a miracle with an open hand by Hradecky, then Cristante misses the goal in a turn. The Giallorossi manipulate the ball in search of the right opening. In the 29th minute Belotti complains of a push in the area by Kossounou, but the referee Oliver lets it continue. Fragmented game at the end of the half with many interruptions and the two teams facing each other in midfield.
At the beginning of the second half, Roma entered the field more convinced. In the 48th minute Spinazzola plays on the left, Abraham touches behind for Celik, but his right-footed shot widens wide. The Giallorossi raise the pressure and pass in the 62nd minute: central percussion by Bove who serves Abraham from the edge, a shot by the Englishman blocked by Hradecky, but the ball reaches Bove himself who scores the left-footed tap-in for the 1- 0. The Germans accuse the blow and in the 67th minute Roma almost double: Belotti served on the run arrives in the area and crosses his right foot from a tight angle, Hradecky relaxes and rejects, and Bove again tries with acrobatics but this time sends over the crossbar . Xabi Alonso’s team loses its balance and the Giallorossi try to surprise them on the restart: in the 70th minute Abraham steals the ball from the frontline, reaches the limit and kicks but his right foot is muted by Tah and ends up in the arms of goalkeeper Hradecky.
In the 72nd minute Alonso changed and put Adli and Azmoun forward and Mourinho responded by inserting Wijnaldum and Dybala for Bove and Belotti. Roma raises the quality of the dribble, closes the spaces and starts again. In the 81st minute the Germans meet again with Frimpong hitting from the right and Adli tries with his back heel, deflected for a corner by Ibanez. In the 87th minute Roma risked the ‘omelette’: Witz’s cross, Rui Patricio collided with Ibanez and then Cristante took care of it to farm Frimpong’s sure-hit conclusion from the chest on the line. Some suffering in the final, but then Roma bring home a painful but deserved victory.