TIRANA (UEFA.com) — AS 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.
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 favor 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.
Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan was substituted in the 17th minute of the first half after suffering an injury .
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.