Leicester City lost to AS Rome by a 1-0 scoreline on Thursday night in Rome, ending the Foxes’ trophy hopes and, for all intents and purposes, their season. Tammy Abraham scored from a corner midway through the first half and City managed just two attempts on goal in the entire game, both of which were easily handled by Roma keeper Rui Patricio.
As you can imagine, manager Brendan Rodgers made a series of changes to the team that lost to Tottenham Hotspur Sunday: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Ricardo Pereira, Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Ademola Lookman, Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy.
The Foxes started brilliantly, earning an early corner through Maddison. The former Norwich City man took it, but he eluded all players and came out for a goal kick. Why hasn’t anyone finally finished it? Chris Smalling wrapped his arm around Fofana’s waist and didn’t let go. VAR looked at it but decided that wrapping your arm around a player and holding them is perfectly fine.
5 minutes of play and Smalling já ansioso para entregar a paçoca com quasi pênalti sobre Fofana.
— Calciopedia (@calciopedia) May 5, 2022
In case you were wondering, a paçoca is a Brazilian peanut candy, but idiomatically it also means a “crumpled mess”.
The hosts took the lead on 11′ thanks to, you guessed it, a corner kick. Roma won three corners in a row and, with the third, the ball found Tammy Abraham’s header. He rose above Ricardo and planted an unstoppable header past Schmeichel. There’s not much you can do about it except maybe put a centre-half on the striker or, you know, not concede as many corners.
The match got really edgy and controversial after that. A referee who will not call obvious fouls will certainly not call out borderline infractions. Both teams had frustrated players on deck with their arms raised on several occasions. This resulted in a match with no stream and little quality.
The referee had completely lost control of the game by half-time, with both teams calling for fouls that weren’t and the referee not calling fouls that were very clearly. I really wish there was more football to talk about, but it was just a waste of half time. Roma were worth their one-goal advantage on the run of play, but the Foxes absolutely should have had a penalty in the opening moments. Let’s hope for a better second half.
Perhaps aware of Matt Cook’s assessment of the Fosse Posse, Rodgers made two personnel changes and a complete overhaul to his half-time form. Lookman and Barnes replaced Kelechi Iheanacho and Daniel Amartey. The system changed from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-1-2 with Madders behind the two forwards.
I’d love to say the change ushered in a period of dominance by City, but I can’t. Roma’s press was less intense, but they seemed perfectly happy to sit back and let the Foxes try to unblock their defence. There was little evidence currently on display to suggest Leicester were up to the task.
There was a beautiful moment at the start of half-time when stadium cameras found Claudio Ranieri in the stands. The entire crowd of visitors rose to their feet and applauded long and loud, with the former city manager finally standing and saluting. It was by far the highlight of the game for us.
With twenty minutes to go, Rodgers introduced Timothy Castagne for Ricardo. A few minutes later, Ayoze Perez replaced KDH. How bad has Leicester’s attack been so far? When Madders threw a tame effort straight at Rui Patricio, it was our first effort on target. Seniorman put a bit more venomous effort on the frame, but again it was straight on the Portuguese keeper.
The five minutes of added time passed and the referee blew his whistle before the full five minutes had been played, of course he did. City’s historic run in the Europa Conference League has come to an end at the final hurdle.
It was desperately poor. We never looked threatening, let alone like scoring. A strong, disciplined Mourinho side will get it to you, so I can’t blame it all on the Foxes’ feet. But, with this team’s attacking talent, you’d think we’d muster little more than just two long-range efforts on goal. No one was on the same page, the passes were getting wildly misplaced, it was just awful to watch.
As I may have mentioned, the loss ends our run in the Europa Conference League. We face Everton Sunday and face Norwich City next Wednesday. Solidly in the middle of the table and without much interest, it will be interesting to see how Rodgers shakes things up. Or, at least, I hope it will.
Final note: I have to make a point here: I get a lot of stick for talking about refereeing in the match report. I understand. It looks like sour grapes. But, when refereeing plays such an important role in the way the game was played and maybe even the result, I think it is dishonest not to mention it. Make no mistake: this referee was desperately poor. They erred on easy calls the entire game. We didn’t deserve to win this but that didn’t make it any less infuriating when Vardy was whistled for doing less than Chris Smalling against Fofana in the penalty area on the death. My opinion is that most of the bad calls went against us, but I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone who watched the game that Srdjan Jovanovic just isn’t up to it regardless of the team. that you support.