Roma 1-0 Feyenoord: Cyriel Dessers lose Europa Conference League final

Nicolò Zaniolo made the difference as Roma clinched their first major UEFA club competition title by winning the 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League.

Roma defeated a feisty Feyenoord side in Tirana to claim the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League title and become the first Italian team to win a European club competition since 2009/10, with José Mourinho becoming the first coach to win all three current men’s UEFA club trophies.

Key moments

32′ Zaniolo flicks over Bijlow to break the deadlock
47′ Orkun Kökçü effort deflected on to post by Mancini
50′ Rui Patrício pushes Malacia drive against woodwork
86′ Pellegrini strike kept out by Bijlow

Match in brief
It was a cagey opening in Tirana, as both sides cautiously probed and looked to test their opponents’ mettle. The National Arena was bouncing, as over 21,000 supporters filled the stadium for the competition’s climax, Feyenoord’s Legioen inspiring their side from the north stand as their Italian counterparts bellowed from the south.

Roma made the first meaningful advance, but Nicolò Zaniolo’s outstretched leg was a whisker away from a cute Lorenzo Pellegrini through ball. However, not long after, the forward took his chance, this time latching on to Gianluca Mancini’s delivery, bringing it under control, and clipping over Justin Bijlow to break the deadlock.

Spurred on by their supporters, Feyenoord swiftly looked to reply, forcing Rui Patrício to deal with a succession of threats – Orkun Kökçü’s rifled effort the most dangerous of the bunch.

In a rapid start to the second half, Mancini diverted onto his own post, before Rui Patrício sprawled to tip Tyrell Malacia’s long-range effort onto the woodwork. Danger averted, Mourinho’s men could take a breath.

As the stadium rocked, momentum continued to swing in Feyenoord’s favour and Cyriel Dessers was next to have a sniff as he attempted to bundle his way through the Roma penalty area, only to be thwarted by last man Chris Smalling.

With the full-time whistle looming, Arne Slot ordered his charges forward. However, as Feyenoord piled on the pressure, a now compact Roma side dropped deep. Bryan Linssen had an opportunity at the death, but the Giallorossi had done enough to see out the final minutes.

Mourinho said beforehand that he wanted to write history – and he did, as his team captured the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League trophy and Roma’s first piece of silverware in 14 years.

Reaction
José Mourinho, Roma coach: “Winning is very difficult. You need many ingredients. Our team has played 55 games. We reached the final being tired, but we kept it hidden. This is a fantastic group of players; that makes me emotional. We struggled in the second half; our opponents played well and they forced us to make defensive changes.”

Tammy Abraham, Roma striker: “I said when I came here that I’m going to help my team get to the final and one day I want to win a trophy. In my first season, I’ve achieved that. Credit to my team-mates for excellent performances. We’ve deserved it; we worked hard all year.” We know what this means to the fans’

Chris Smalling, Roma defender: “We knew how much it would mean to everyone in Rome and you can see how together we are until the end. We dropped a bit deeper than we needed to, but you could see strikers running back – everyone knew we had to win.”

Arne Slot, Feyenoord coach: “I told the players during the break what they had to do better. In the second half, we were sharp from the first moment, but you need a bit of luck and we didn’t get it. We had the time and opportunity to score and we didn’t. Maybe that’s to do with the quality of the opponent.”

Justin Bijlow, Feyenoord goalkeeper: “The first half, we didn’t put them under as much pressure as we did in the second. We played the ball round at the back, and that suits them. In the second half, we had more possession and opportunities. It’s a pity we didn’t start this way.”

Feyenoord’s Linssen: ‘It hurts’

Key stats
Mourinho is the first coach to win all three current men’s UEFA club competitions – UEFA Champions League (Porto 2003/04, Inter 2009/10), UEFA Europa League (Manchester United 2016/17) and UEFA Europa Conference League (Roma 2021/22).

This is Roma’s first major UEFA club competition title. They finished runners-up in the 1984 European Cup final and the 1991 UEFA Cup showpiece.

Roma are the first Italian team to win a UEFA club competition since Inter won the Champions League in 2009/10, when they were coached by Mourinho.

Roma are unbeaten in their last eight UEFA club competition matches against Dutch opposition (W5 D3).

Mourinho has kept clean sheets in four of his five major UEFA competition finals – and those are his four most recent.

Dessers finished as this season’s top goalscorer with ten goals – Tammy Abraham ended one strike behind on nine.

This was Feyenoord’s longest-ever season – they played 54 competitive games, which included 19 in the Europa Conference League (including qualifiers). Their previous record was 51 in 2001/02, when they won the UEFA Cup.