Tammy Abraham’s towering header was enough for Roma to secure their spot in the inaugural Europa Conference League final and knock out Leicester in the second leg of their semi-final tie on Thursday night.
The England striker rose highest to nod in the winner on the night and on aggregate after the two teams played out a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium last week.
The hosts started fluidly, with Lorenzo Pellegrini bringing a save from Kasper Schmeichel from a free kick. Nicola Zalewski soon careered down the left to pull a cross back to Pellegrini, but his first time shot of him was deflected behind.
It was from that corner that Roma took the lead, with Leicester’s shoddy set-piece defending again coming to the fore. Pellegrini’s outswinger was by Abraham, whose powerful header from close range gave Schmeichel no chance. It was also the striker’s ninth goal in this season’s Europa Conference League.
Leicester saw more of the ball in the first half but struggled to create anything meaningful, failing to give Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio a shot on target to deal with in the opening 45 minutes.
However, the Foxes’ intensity increased after the break as they pinned the hosts back in their own half, though clear-cut chances continued to evade them. With Roma essentially rejecting opportunities for possession, Brendan Rodgers was tasked with finding a way past Jose Mourinho’s low block.
For the most part, their final ball let them down. Key men James Maddison and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall found it difficult to create, with Roma happy to keep Leicester at an arm’s length. Patricio eventually made his first save in the 78th minute when he held a Maddison strike from distance.
Leicester kept possession and held off the occasional Roma counter attack but couldn’t find a way through the hosts’ defence. Instead, Roma reached the final to give Mourinho his first shot at European glory since 2017, when he won the Europa League with Manchester United.
For Leicester, their hopes for silverware this season are over, while they are very unlikely to qualify for Europe through their Premier League position, sitting ten points behind seventh placed West Ham.
GK: Rui Patricio – 6/10 – Had very little to do. Eventually made a save in the second half from Maddison.
CB: Gianluca Mancini – 6/10 – Booked for clattering Dewsbury-Hall, getting nowhere near the ball. More assured after that altercation.
CB: Chris Smalling – 8/10 – Got away with one penalty appeal from Leicester. On hand to make blocks and interceptions in the center of defence. No Leicester player troubled him in the air, either.
CB: Roger Ibanez – 7/10 – Made some important recovery challenges to stop Leicester getting a whiff of goal.
RWB: Rick Karsdorp – 5/10 – Looked a little sloppy with the ball at his feet, squandering a brilliant Pellegrini pass on one occasion.
CM: Bryan Cristante – 6/10 – Few nice moments, including one where he nicked the ball off Justin but couldn’t get his cross right.
CM: Sergio Oliveira – 6/10 – Replaced the injured Henrikh Mkhitaryan in midfield. Killed Roma’s flow on the counter but performed his defensive actions adequately.
CM: Lorenzo Pellegrini – 8/10 – Looked dangerous when the ball broke to him on the edge of Leicester’s box. Got the assist for Abraham’s header. Also the snappier of Roma’s midfielders as they sat off the visitors in the second half.
LWB: Nicola Zalewski – 6/10 – Got free on the left on a few occasions and gave Pereira some grief.
ST: Nicolo Zaniola – 5/10 – Disappointingly wasteful in possession. He did earn his side some respite with some bought fouls and won the ball back frequently.
ST: Tammy Abraham – 7/10 – Attacked the cross for his headed goal brilliantly. Gave Fofana a tough evening and proved the match-winner.
SUB: Jordan Veretout – N/A
SUB: Matias Vina – N/A
SUB: Eldor Shomurodov – N/A
GK: Kasper Schmeichel – 6/10 – Made a few stops as Roma piled on early but was powerless to stop Abraham’s header.
RB: Ricardo Pereira – 5/10 – Few chances to get Leicester in behind but his passing was off. He was marking Abraham at the corner where the hosts scored.
CB: Wesley Fofana – 4/10 – Given a really tough examination by Abraham, one he probably lost despite Leicester’s dominance in possession. Booked for a foul on the striker.
CB: Jonny Evans – 5/10 – Had less and less to do as Roma gave up possession but the damage had been done by Roma’s early strike.
LB: James Justin – 5/10 – Suffered an injury scare early on but continued.
CM: James Maddison – 5/10 – Couldn’t unlock the door when Leicester needed him to.
CM: Youri Tielemans – 5/10 – Uninspired in possession and looks to have phoned it in as his Leicester career reaches its expected conclusion.
CM: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall – 6/10 – Had a few potshots from a distance but lacked composition. He buzzed around in possession before his withdrawal from it.
RW: Ademola Lookman – 4/10 – Barely got into the game at all.
ST: Jamie Vardy – 4/10 – Fed off scraps the whole night and didn’t get many opportunities to run in behind. Not his fault as Leicester’s creators failed on the night.
LW: Harvey Barnes – 4/10 – Could have had more of a run at the opposition had some passes gone to feet. Ineffectual and brought off at half time.
SUB: Kelechi Iheanacho – 5/10 – Leicester looked more of a threat with his introduction but they still conjured up very little.
SUB: Daniel Amartey – 4/10 – Went long with his passing but wasn’t very accurate.
SUB: Ayoze Perez – N/A
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