On Thursday, Edoardo Bove scored the game-winning goal for Roma against Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.
Bove scored the game’s sole goal in the 63rd minute at the Stadio Olimpico, giving Jose Mourinho’s team a slim advantage heading into next week’s second leg in Germany.
After winning the Europa Conference League last season, Mourinho now has a chance to reach his second European final in as many years as Roma coach.
“It’s all down to the boys tonight who played with desire and the right mentality,” Mourinho stated, according to Sky Sports.
“I’ve put in a lot of miles in my career, but even I felt the fans’ support tonight, and the boys responded with a desire to make them happy.”
Roma won despite having a number of players out or barely fit to play, with stars Paulo Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum only coming on in the last 15 minutes to aid a fatigued, mostly second-string squad.
“Roma were a bit more dangerous in the second half, but we had the feeling that we could beat them in their own backyard,” Leverkusen goalie Lukas Hradecky said.
“It’s not the best result for us, but things could have been worse.”
- Struggle Roma –
A plodding first half saw nothing in the way of goalmouth action, with each side having one excellent chance.
After exchanging passes with Adam Hlozek on the outside of the penalty box, Florian Wirtz blasted a very presentable opportunity well wide in the seventh minute.
Roma, on the other hand, were left wondering how they didn’t score 12 minutes later when Roger Ibanez’s header from a Lorenzo Pellegrini free-kick was well-saved by Hradecky.
And Tammy Abraham failed to knock in from the rebound, leaving home supporters stunned by their misfiring English striker’s latest gaffe.
Between then and when Roma grabbed the lead soon after the hour mark, young product Bove caused an uproar in the fans that had seemed unachievable up to that moment.
Bove initiated the goal-scoring play by rushing forward before feeding Abraham, whose twist and shot resulted in the ball dropping to the youthful midfielder, who smashed in the opening goal.
Roma then went back into their defensive shell, believing they could fend off Leverkusen.
They did, however, dodge a massive scare with three minutes left when custodian Rui Patricio and Ibanez collided while attempting to clear Wirtz’s cross.
The ball was sent to Jeremie Frimpong, but the Dutch forward’s shot was blocked by Bryan Cristante.
Fans asked referee Michael Oliver to blow his whistle, resulting in a hail of whistles from the stands.
When the Englishman complied, both teams remained in contention to meet either Sevilla or Juventus in the Budapest final.
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