The teams could not be separated after an engaging first leg of this UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final.
15′ Pellegrini lands a good shot for the opener
67′ Mancini turns Barnes’ cross into his own net
Match in brief: Leicester fight for a draw
Leicester, who made their debut in the European semi-finals, started the strongest of the teams and forced a number of early turns. James Maddison’s best from set pieces picked out Timothy Castagne’s run at the far post, but the Belgium international was unable to direct his powerful header towards goal.
The game as it happened: Leicester 1-1 Roma
However, Roma grew in the game and took the lead with a sweeping attack. Switching play from the right flank to the left in his own half, Nicola Zalewski lowered the wing before making a delicious pass through the Leicester defense for the run of visiting skipper Pellegrini, who spent his arrival in Kasper Schmeichel’s legs.
The Foxes started the second half on the front foot and almost capitalized when Marc Albrighton’s inswinging corner picked Ademola Lookman into space, but the 24-year-old mistimed his jump, heading accordingly.
Just like in their quarter-final second leg, some mid-game personnel changes paid off for Brendan Rodgers. He introduced Harvey Barnes just after the hour mark, and it was the midfielder who played a key role in the equalizer five minutes later. Barnes burst into the Roma penalty area before clipping the ball for Lookman, but Mancini, in his haste to reach the cross before the Leicester man, could only help him into the net for the Rome.
The home side smelled victory and only a superb save from Rui Patrício prevented substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s curling effort from nestling in the corner of the net.
Joe Terry, Leicester reporter
A much better second-half performance from Leicester, who took advantage of Roma’s increasingly deep fall to fit better into the game. Given their dominance in the second half, they may even kick each other for not going any further, but as things stand this tie is well balanced. Roma will support each other at home, but as the last draw showed, Leicester can hurt anyone.
Francesco Corda, Rome journalist
Roma couldn’t capitalize on the opening goal against a Leicester City side who looked a bit sharper. As inertia seemed to set in for Jose Mourinho’s men, Rodgers’ changes breathed new life into the Foxes, who were well worth the draw. Everything is open for the second leg, where the Giallorossi will need Tammy Abraham and Nicolò Zaniolo at their best.
Brendan Rodgers, Leicester manager: “I think we played very well. We really dominated the game. They have dangerous players but I’m very happy with the performance. You come to the semi-finals and you want to start well, bring your pace and intensity in the game. The only thing missing was the final touch of quality in the final third.
Ademola Lookman, Leicester midfielder: “There were times when we broke them. We created chances but it’s a shame we couldn’t get the win. It will be a tough game in the second leg with the atmosphere and their fans behind them. We will go there to try and win.”
Jose Mourinho, Roma head coach: “I think we would have lost this game five or six months ago. We had the guts to start strong, pressing hard and giving them little space. Then our energy level went down, we took it a goal we could have avoided and now there will be a final on the line in Rome.”
Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma captain and goalscorer: “We knew it wouldn’t be easy to come here. They’re a great team, so we’re delighted and ready to go again. Coming away from here with the score at 1-1 before the second leg at home is definitely a plus. The way we approached the game this week should serve as a model for next week.
- Roma have scored in their last 23 UEFA club competition matches.
- Leicester have lost just one of their last 17 European home games.
- Roma have won just one of their last 19 UEFA trips to face English opponents away from home.
- Ten of Leicester’s 13 UEFA Europa Conference League goals have come in the second half.
Leicester: Schmeichel; Ricardo Pereira, Fofana, Evans, Castagne (Justin 21); Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury Hall; Albrighton (Barnes 62), Vardy (Iheanacho 62), Lookman (Pérez 83)
Rome: Rui Patricio; Ibanez, Smalling, Mancini; Karsdorp, Mkhitaryan (Veretout 57), Cristante, Pellegrini (Afena-Gyan 85), Zalewski (Vina 85); Zaniolo (Sergio Oliveira 69), Abraham
Where is the 2022 Europa Conference League final?
The National Arena in Tirana (Arena Kombëtare) will host the final on Wednesday 25 May.
The winners secure a place in the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League group stage, if they did not qualify through their domestic competition.