An own goal from Gianluca Mancini saved Leicester’s draw in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-final against Roma.
Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini led by example, giving the visitors a 15th-minute lead with a smart run and finish after a fine reverse pass from Nicolo Zalewski.
It was cruel on Leicester, who started well and applied heavy pressure on the Roma defense in the early stages of the game, but failed to create a clear-cut chance.
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Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio was virtually a spectator in the first half as Leicester struggled to break through a stubborn back line.
Lookman should have at least tested the visitors stopper early in the second half, but he mistimed his jump and headed in Marc Albrighton’s corner.
However, he played a pivotal role in Leicester’s 67th-minute equalizer when he raced for substitute Harvey Barnes’ cross, edging past Mancini as the ball went over the line.
Both teams traded chances in a bid to win the match, with Rui Patricio managing to deny Kelechi Iheanacho from distance and at the other end Sergio Oliveira forced a good save from Kasper Schmeichel.
But they couldn’t be separated and travel to the Stadio Olimpico next Thursday for the second leg with a finely balanced draw.
TALKING POINT – Not the worst result for Leicester
Leicester were arguably the better team on the night and, on second thought, given their second-half dominance, they will be slightly disappointed not to take the lead in next week’s second leg at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma, in typical Jose Mourinho style, were very effective, and when they had their noses in front they were always going to be tough to break.
The Portuguese will be happy with the performance, but will be fully aware that his team will have to be more adventurous next Thursday in front of Roma’s 60,000 supporters. That could well play into Leicester’s hands as they can be dangerous during the break and will be confident of scoring at least once in Rome.
So while it’s not ideal, it’s far from a disaster for Brendan Rodgers’ side as they look to make a first-ever European final.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Chris Smalling (Roma)
The inclusion of Jamie Vardy, who was only making his second start of the calendar year, was the talking point before kick-off, but Smalling never gave his compatriot an inch, keeping the 35-year-old years extremely quiet. Roma spent much of the game in their own half and the former Manchester United defender was key in absorbing the pressure from Leicester.
Leicester: Schmeichel 6, Pereira 6, Fofana 7, Evans 7, Castagne N/A, Dewsbury-Hall 7, Tielemans 7, Maddison 7, Albrighton 6, Vardy 5, Lookman 8.. submarines: Justin 5, Barnes 7, Iheanacho 6, Perez N/A.
Roma: Patricio 7, Ibanez 6, Smalling 8*, Mancini 6, Karsdorp 7, Mkhitaryan 6, Cristante 6, Pellegrini 7, Zalewski 7, Abraham 7, Zaniolo 6.. submarines: Vina N/A, Veretout 5, Oliveira 5, Afena-Gyan N/A.
15′ – GOAL! LEICESTER 0-1 ROMA (LORENZO PELLEGRINI): The skipper of Roma Pellegrini gives the advantage to the visitors! It’s a brilliantly crafted goal, too, as Zalewski pushes his side forward with a threatening run before sneaking inside and picking Pellegrini’s run behind the Leicester defense with a perfectly weighted ball. He was not mistaken, finishing confidently ahead of Schmeichel.
51′ – MUST DO BETTER! Lookman is unmarked and should score as he meets Albrighton’s corner, but he can’t hold it off. He has his head in his hands, he knows it was a huge chance to equal Leicester.
67′ – GOAL! LEICESTER 1-1 ROMA (ADEMOLA LOOKMAN): An instant impact from Barnes! Launching into a menacing run down the left flank, he gets a lucky ricochet as he heads for the secondary line, picking off Lookman who holds his marker and finishes with aplomb!
79′ – IT’S GALANT FOR RUI PATRICIO! Tielemans wins the ball for Leicester in a dangerous area, Iheanacho takes control as he fires from 25 yards. The ball bounces awkwardly past Rui Patricio and the Roma keeper does well to push it away!
81′ – GOOD BACKUP! Another reminder of Roma’s threat at the break as Abraham plays Oliveira who forces a good save from Schmeichel!
- Italian clubs have never won an away semi-final against English teams in UEFA competitions – in 14 games (D5 L9).
- Lorenzo Pellegrini has scored four UEFA Conference League goals this season, a record for him in a single season in European competitions (excluding playoffs).
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