Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini scored in extra time to earn hosts AS Roma a spot in the Europa League semi-finals after defeating Dutch side Feyenoord 4-1 on Thursday for a 4-2 aggregate win.
El Shaarawy converted a cross from Tammy Abraham after 101 minutes and captain Pellegrini, who missed a penalty in last week’s first leg, sealed the win seven minutes later when he slotted in a rebound from an Abraham shot. Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his team after reaching his second European semi-final in a row with Roma, following last season’s Conference League title.
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“Maybe someone thinks differently, but in my view, the team played very well in a difficult match to deal with,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“I’m sure the fans would have gone home happy for the team regardless of the result. We have limits, but this team is a family.”
After Feyenoord had won the quarter-final first leg 1-0, Roma pushed for the opening goal from the start, missing two great opportunities in the first 10 minutes. The visitors became more involved in the match, with Roma keeper Rui Patricio forced to deny Sebastian Szymanski from close range.
Immediately after halftime, Roma had an excellent chance when a cross found Pellegrini at the near post but his shot hit the post.
“I have to say that the emotions started before the match. You know you have to win for these people who give everything for us – and, consequently, we have to give everything for them,” Pellegrini said.
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On the hour mark, roars of relief erupted around the Stadio Olimpico when Leonardo Spinazzola took advantage of a deflection in the box to poke the ball into the bottom corner.
Mourinho started with key players Paulo Dybala and Abraham on the bench, after they suffered injuries early in the first leg, but he sent them on midway through the second half to chase a decider.
In the 80th minute, Brazilian Igor Paixao headed in an equaliser for the visitors, unmarked inside the box from a cross by Szymanski, only for Dybala to level the aggregate score one minute before stoppage time with a shot from a tricky angle.
Feyenoord striker Santiago Gimenez received a straight red card in the game’s final moments for a knee-high tackle on Gianluca Mancini.
“I am never angry when we don’t do well, because I know these players gave everything. Now we must rest as much as we can, prepare for Serie A and forget the Europa League for now,” Mourinho said.
Roma will meet Bayer Leverkusen in the semi-finals on May 11 and 18 after the German side knocked out Union Saint-Gilloise 5-2 on aggregate.
Photo Credit: Getty