Leicester vs Roma 1-1: Zalewski Shines at King Power Stadium

José Mourinho’s Roma didn’t manage to overcome Leicester in the first leg of their Conference League Semi Final but can be happy with the outcome of the Thursday night clash.

The Giallorossi left the King Power Stadium with a 1-1 draw and the confidence that a new star is born in the Eternal City as 20-year-old Nicola Zalewski put up a sumptuous performance embellished with an assist for Lorenzo Pellegrini’s opener.

The Foxes drew level in the second half with Ademola Lookman after dominating the game for large chunks of time. All in all, it was a fair outcome that leaves all possibilities open as the two sides prepare to square off again in one week at the Stadio Olimpico to book a ticket to the Tirana Final.   

Pellegrini Opens the Scoring from a Brilliant Zalewski Pass

The English side took the initiative from the start and collected three corners in the first three minutes, coming close to score with a Timothy Castagne header. Leicester accumulated much ball possession but produced little chances as Roma were very well positioned across the pitch and defended themselves with order.

Their whole back three shone as Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smallling and Roger Ibanez neutralized most of Brendan Rogers’ side’s initiatives.

Conversely, Roma drew first blood the very first time they showed themselves around Kasper Schmeichel’s area. It was Zalewski to propitiate the Giallorossi‘s opener as he invented a spectacular diagonal pass for Lorenzo Pellegrini from the left flank – an almost identical feat to the one he had performed against Bodo/Glimt in the Quarter Finals and that had resulted in Nicolò Zaniolo’s goal. 

The captain received the ball in the middle of the box and nutmegged Schemeichel to put Roma in the driving seat after 15 minutes.

Things soon got worse for Brendan Rogers who lost Castagne to an injury and had to send in James Justin after 21 minutes only. However, Leicester slowly regained control of the match and closed the first half in attack.

Ademola Lookman was the Foxes’ most dangerous weapon with two shots in the space of five minutes. His first effort was pushed back by Smalling whereas his second shot from outside the box was parried back by Rui Patricio with his fists.

Before half time, James Maddison took charge of leading the home side’s assaults with a curl that sailed above the crossbar and then with a shot that gave the Roma goalkeeper some trouble.

Lookman Draws Level for Leicester

Leicester continued to attack after the restart but Rui Patricio suffered no more real threats until 60 minutes, when Rodgers went for a double substitution and brought in Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho, replacing a disappointing Jamie Vardy.

That really helped as soon enough an exchange between the two resulted in Barnes opening a breach into the Giallorossi‘s box and serving Lookman from the left size. The Foxes’ number 37 made no mistake from point-blank range as he anticipated Mancini’s clearance attempt and pushed the ball into the back of the net.

The equalizer boosted Leicester’s morale as the Foxes continued to attack for the remainder of the game and Roma struggled for a few minutes before reorganized themselves. A defensive mistake from Bryan Cristante resulted in a tricky Iheanacho shot, that called Rui Patricio to action once again.

The Giallorossi also had their chances though, especially when Tammy Abraham served substitute Sergio Oliveria with a spectacular back-hell pass. Schmeichel saved from the Portuguese’s shot and kept his side afloat.

Mourinho sent in Matias Vina and Felix Afena-Gyan in the dying minutes of the game but there were no more scoring occasions on either side. The outcome of the Semi Final will thus be decided next Thursday at the Stadio Olimpico, where Roma will at least have the advantage of their home supporters.



April 28, 2022 – Conference League 2021-2022 Semi Finals

SCORERS: 15′ Pellegrini (R), 67′ Lookman (L)

LEICESTER CITY (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Ricardo Pereira, Fofana, Evans, Castagne (21’J ustin); Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Albrighton (62′ Barnes), Vardy (62′ Iheanacho), Lookman (84′ A. Perez) (Ward, Soyunçu, Amartey, Choudhury, Vestergaard, Daka, Thomas, Soumaré) Coach: Rodgers
ROMA (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Mkhitaryan (57′ Veretout), Cristante, Pellegrini (86′ Afena-Gyan), Zalewski (86′ Viña) ; Zaniolo (69′ Sergio Oliveira), Abraham (Fuzato, Carles Perez, Shomurodov, Maitland-Niles, Kumbulla, Spinazzola, Bove, El Shaarawy) Coach: Mourinho

REFEREE: Del Cerro Grande (Spain)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Dewsbury-Hall, Vardy (L), Abraham, Zaniolo (R); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 5′