Ricardo Pereira scores historic winner as Leicester secure semi-final with Mourinho’s Roma [video]


Jose Mourinho’s Roma will take on Leicester City for a place in the Europa League final, after the Italians finally rose to the Bodo/Glimt challenge and Ricardo Pereira put the Foxes through to their first-ever European semi-final.

Mourinho’s Roma beat foes Norway 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico to book their place in the last four, but Leicester’s win was more dramatic as a late comeback in the Netherlands against PSV ended with the historical winner of Ricardo.

Both encounters were well prepared heading into the second leg, with Roma edging Norway’s Bodo/Glimt 2-1 after the first encounter in Scandinavia. The teams were paired in the group stage earlier this season, where Bodo inflicted an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at the Giallorossi before earning a 1-1 draw in the Italian capital.

After suffering another frustrating result in the third clash last week amid controversy over a physical altercation between Bodo manager Kjetil Knutsen and Roma goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos, Mourinho remained confident . “We have the second leg to play at the Olimpico in front of our fans and I have no problem saying now that I think we are the favorites to reach the semi-final,” Mourinho said last week.

The home crowd in the Italian capital provided the kind of atmosphere Mourinho has grown accustomed to, with hundreds of flags being waved before the game as supporters made their voices heard. On the pitch, Roma responded with goals, netting three times in half an hour thanks to a brace from Tammy Abraham and Nicolo Zaniolo to put them 4-2 on aggregate at half-time.

Zaniolo scored his hat-trick just minutes after the restart to essentially kill the tie, as Mourinho made history by becoming the manager to reach the most European semi-finals with 11 appearances. Mourinho is closely followed on the list by Alex Ferguson and Jupp Heynckes who have both reached the final 10 times.

“Being in the semi-finals is the most important thing, but the way we played from the first minute with high pressure, intensity, quality of play at the back, we all felt the game was the ours even at 2-0,” Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia.

“Even after the first leg where we lost 2-1, I always had the feeling that we were superior. We are a stronger team, it’s frankly unacceptable. We only managed to beat this team at the fourth attempt, but it was the most important. It was 2-1 for them, it ended 5-2 for us.

Ricardo the hero of historic Leicester night

Roma’s semi-final opponent will be Leicester City, who qualified for a European semi-final for the first time in their history thanks to a winner from Ricardo Pereira. The English side beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1 in the Netherlands with a superb late comeback to book their place in the last four, marking a memorable achievement for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw in England, but for much of the second leg the home crowd appeared to cheer their side to victory as PSV led for most of the game thanks to Eran Zahavi’s 27.e-minute strike. Leicester needed a goal to level the aggregate score and potentially extend the game, and James Maddison produced it in the 77th minute with a clean finish.

As PSV looked nervous in the final minutes, the visitors took their chance to press for a winner and it came with less than three minutes remaining. Ricardo Pereira, who started the game at right-back, found himself on hand to sweep up a rebound after Ademola Lookman’s effort was saved, giving the Portuguese his first-ever goal in Europe hero status for his team.

By Sean Gillen


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