AS Roma have won the first final of the new conference league. However, the Italians had to tremble in the second half against Feyenoord. Coach Jose Mourinho established a special brand.
Jose Mourinho freed himself from the enthusiastic crowd of his assistant coaches and ran happily on the pitch in Tirana. Completely different, the star coach and his team celebrated AS Roma’s first victory in the European Cup in 61 years.
After winning the inaugural final of the newly created Conference League, Mourinho became the first coach to win the title in three current European football club competitions. In a 1–0 (1–0) win against Feyenoord Rotterdam, Niccol Zaniolo scored in the 32nd minute in front of 21,690 spectators and decided the final, which was only exciting in the second half.
The 59-year-old Mourinho thus maintained his flawless final record. After victories with FC Porto in the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 Champions League, with Inter Milan in the Premier League in 2010 and Manchester United in the Europa League in 2017, they won their fifth European Cup final. It was the first European Cup win for an Italian team since Mourinho’s success with Inter 12 years ago.
The Portuguese had already shed some tears after entering the final. After all, Roma’s yearning for another European title dates back to 1961, when they won the long-forgotten Fairs Cup. “We knew how much it would mean to everyone in Rome,” defender Chris Smalling said after the cup ceremony. Each of us knew we had to win.
Zaniolo completes Roma’s first successful offensive
Inspired by thousands of fans, the Romans got the most out of the game in Tirana in the first half. With typical Mourinho tactics, sixth in Serie A relied on control from a safe defense. Because Feyenoord played a bit aggressively, the first half was uneventful for a long time. Only an early finish for the injured former Dortmunder Heinrich McKitterson with the Romans shook people’s minds.
With the first successful offensive, Roma again took the lead. Rotterdam’s Gernot Trauner underestimated Gianluca Mancini’s high pass, the secretive Zaniolo pushed intentionally.
Unlucky after the Feyenoord break
Feyenoord came out of the dressing room as if transformed. First, a defensive effort by Mancini followed by a Dutch corner landed on his post, then Rome keeper Rui Patricio fired a follow-up shot (47′) from Gus Till. Three minutes later, the goalkeeper removed Tyrell Malasia’s powerful shot just above the bar.
Mourinho’s team survived only effort and luck at this stage, and the Romans were rarely able to provide relief. But Feyenoord did not take advantage of his chance to equalize and remained empty-handed.
riots the night before the game
The night before the final, riots broke out in Tirana between police and groups of fans of both teams. As reported by the AP news agency, 19 police officers and five others were injured. A police officer is reported to have been injured by a knife. Fights also took place in the stadium before kick-off, and many Feyenoord fans had to leave the field.
The capital of Albania expected 100,000 fans from both countries for the final – but both clubs were entitled to only 4,000 tickets, and the National Arena holds 20,000. UEFA president Alexandre Ceferin said: “If this trend continues, we will have to think about bigger stadiums in the future.” At the premiere of the competition, the head of the association said: “The opening season was beyond expectations.”
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