Jose Mourinho insists it was ‘not easy’ for Roma to win 2-1 away to Trabzonspor in the UEFA Europa Conference League play-offs, but they ‘remained balanced and solid’ throughout.
Away goals no longer count double, but it was still an impressive 2-1 victory in Turkey with Lorenzo Pellegrini’s cushioned volley and an Eldor Shomurodov tap-in around the temporary Andreas Cornelius equaliser.
“This is not a Conference League level opponent, it felt more like a Champions League play-off,” Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia.
“It was not easy, they have a lot of experienced players. There was pressure and if anyone thought this would be easy, they were sorely mistaken. The fans also played their part with a great atmosphere.
“The team remained balanced and solid, that is the important thing. We struggled a little after the break purely on a physical level, especially those like Jordan Veretout and Bryan Cristante who haven’t managed to do much fitness work in pre-season.
“A concern I did have is that we reached the danger zone so many times without scoring, and some players didn’t entirely follow the tactical plan. I still liked the team, we won and my feelings would’ve been positive even without the victory.”
The second leg is at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening and a 50 per cent capacity will be allowed, with only those who have proved their COVID-free status allowed into the venue.
“The Olimpico crowd will have its say on Thursday and we hope to reach the group stage.”
The coach has decided that when the squad returns to Rome tonight, they will sleep at the Trigoria training camp.
“The wives and girlfriends of the players might not be happy with my decision! But this is the life of a professional, the vacation is over. We are getting back late and need to fully recover.”
— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) August 19, 2021