Leicester 1-1 Roma: Own goal hands Foxes lifeline in semi-final tie

Leicester 1-1 Roma: All eyes on Rome with a second-half own goal handing the Foxes a crucial lifeline in their Conference League semi-final tie, after Lorenzo Pellegrini opened the scoring for Jose Mourinho’s side

  • Leicester will travel to Roma with Conference League semi-final in the balance 
  • Jose Mourinho’s visitors took the lead when Lorenzo Pellegrini smashed home 
  • The Foxes were often frustrated by the Italian opponents, who defended stoutly
  • But an own goal from Gianluca Mancini saw them draw level in the second half

For so long, this was a game right out of the Jose Mourinho playbook. Parked busses and dirty tricks. An early goal and a lesson in frustration.

But there’s an old saying in these parts: ‘Foxes Never Quit’. And in their first even European semi-final, Leicester City refused to do so.

Ademola Lookman claimed the second-half equaliser to Lorenzo Pellegrini’s opening goal, bundled over the line from close range, though the record books will read it as a Gianluca Mancini own goal.

Leicester remain firmly in their Conference League semi-final tie after drawing 1-1 with Roma

An own goal from Gianluca Mancini levelled up the scores in the second half at the King Power

Leicester City (4-3-3): Schmeichel 7; Pereira 6, Fofana 7, Evans 7, Castagne 5 (for Justin 21); Maddison 7, Tielemans 6.5, Dewsbury-Hall 6; Albrighton 6 (for Barnes 7.5, 62), Vardy 6 (for Iheanacho 7, 62), Lookman 7.5 (for Perez, 83)

Scorers: Mancini (OG) 67

 Booked: Dewsbury-Hall (25), Vardy (59)

Subs: Ward, Justin, Amartey, Soyuncu, Vestergaard, Thomas, Choudhury, Soumare, Perez, Barnes, Daka, Iheanacho.

Manager: Rodgers 7.5

Roma (3-5-2): Patricio 6.5; Ibanez 7, Smalling 7, Mancini 7; Karsdorp 6.5, Mkhitaryan 7 (for Veretout 6.5, 57), Cristante 6, Pellegrini 8 (for Afena-Gyan, 85), Zalewski 7 (for Vina 85); Zaniolo 6.5 (for Oliveira 69, 6), Abraham 5

Scorers: Pellegrini (15)

Booked: Abraham (8), Zaniolo (63)

Subs: Fuzato, Vina, Perez, Shomurodov, Maitland-Niles, Veretout, Kumbulla, Oliveira, Spinazzola, Bove, Afena-Gyan, El Shaarawy

Manager: Mourinho 7.5

Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande 5

In truth, it was Leicester who had the most of the ball, most of the chances. But that’s not always how it goes against Mourinho teams. You don’t always get what you deserve.

Leicester may not have an advantage as they go into their Europa Conference League second leg but they are, at least, on a level footing. And how much they need it. More than 70,000 await them in the Stadio Olimpico next week.

‘The second leg is a final played in Rome,’ said Mourinho. ‘That is the way we look at it. It will not be easy, not at all, but for us, it will make a massive difference in front of 70,000.’

Mourinho was not only impressed by Rodgers on the touchline, for it was his changes that sparked Leicester’s equaliser, but also by his gift of wine before the game.

‘He bought me the best Portuguese bottle of wine,’ said Mourinho. ‘He was crying because it was so expensive. It’s very difficult to find. I don’t know how he found it — but I know how he paid!’

Inside the Leicester camp, they felt they deserved more: ‘I thought we played quite well and deserved a little more out the game but we know what you are going to get when you come up against one of his [Mourinho’s] sides,’ said defender James Justin. ‘It’s still all to play for but if we play like we did tonight we have gone one hell of a chance.’

This was a European semi-final and, on both sides, a game of returns. For Mourinho, this was his first contest as a manager in England since his acrimonious departure from Tottenham a year ago.

On that occasion, he had led Spurs to the Europa League final only to be denied the chance to lead them out. If they can finish the job done in the second leg, it is unlikely the same will happen again.

For Leicester, it was Jamie Vardy’s name on the lips of their supporters. A first start since early March following injury was eagerly welcomed.

Lorenzo Pellegrini made the breakthrough on 15 minutes after tucking past Kasper Schmeichel

The midfielder was able to pick his spot into the far corner, sending the travelling fans wild

How they miss him. He gave Leicester the early tempo. It came as no surprise when the big screens flashed up that Leicester had enjoyed nearly 80 per cent of the possession in the first 10 minutes.

Not that Mourinho cared. This is him, after all. His sides, especially this Roma one, thrive on soaking up pressure.

So it was even less of a surprise when Nicola Zalewski burst forward down the left, split Leicester’s defence with a pass to Lorenzo Pellegreni and the Roma captain put it through Kasper Schmeichel’s legs and into the corner.

Mourinho, in his long gray coat, sat and scribbled something in his notebook. ‘Lovely goal, must send replay to Daniel Levy,’ the likely entry.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one of a host of former Premier League players to have featured

Ademola Lookman was a thorn in Roma’s side during the clash and tried his luck in the first half

It was Mourinho at both ends. Tackles flew in, crosses headed clear. Smalling denied Lookman with a brave late block, though how he escaped a booking for a tackle on Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the box only referee Carlos Grande knows. 

Abraham had received one early on for a nasty challenge. Goal-mouth scrambles, more cynical fouls. Mourinho was a happy man.

The longer the contest went on, the more frustrated Leicester became. Vardy tripped Roger Ibanez, cynically stopping yet another counter-attack, and went into the book.

It was not long until Vardy’s night was over. His influence had long drained from the game and he was off after the hour. Rodgers knows he will need him in Rome next week and especially now we have a game on our hands.

Jose Mourinho’ men soaked up pressure and frustrated their opponents with a dogged display

Former Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham won a header under pressure from Wesley Fofana

James Maddison chanced his arm from the edge of the area as Leicester looked for a goal

Within moments of Vardy’s departure, Leicester were level. And it was Rodgers’ changes that had the impact. Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho, off the bench, exchanged passes before Barnes squared it to Lookman, who helped bundle it in via Mancini.

Knock enough times and, even against this most drilled of Mourinho defences, you can find a way through eventually.

They could even have had a winner when Iheanacho headed over from Maddison’s cross. At the other end, Schmeichel palmed Abraham’s shot on to the woodwork.

A frantic end to a fascinating contest. All eyes on Rome.

Timothy Castagne threw himself at the ball with Roma keeper Rui Patricio rooted to his spot

Nicolo Zaniolo was shown a yellow card, with the Italian outfit putting on a combative front

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