Berlin, 26 May 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Roma beat Feyenoord 1-0 on Wednesday to claim the inaugural Europa Conference League title as their emotional coach Jose Mourinho remained unbeaten in now five continental finals.
Nicolo Zaniolo scored the winner in the 32nd minute in Tirana for Roma’s first official title in Europe, but not after being saved by the post and crossbar in the second half.
They won the 1961 Fairs Cup which preceded the UEFA Cup but is not recognized by UEFA, and then lost the 1984 Champions Cup and 1991 UEFA Cup finals.
Mourinho became the third coach to lift trophies in three European competitions, joining Udo Lattek and Giovanni Trapattoni who won the Champions Cup, UEFA Cup (now Europa League) and defunkt Cup Winners’ Cup. Trappatoni also has five continental titles overall.
The Portuguese helmsman won the Champions League with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010, plus the UEFA Cup/Europa League with Porto 2003 and Manchester United 2017 before his latest success.
“We have written history. This is a competition we believed we could win since the start,” the deeply emotional Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“It’s been an incredible 11 months, and to accomplish this right away. Now we had to write history and we did that.”
Zaniolo said: “It’s wonderful, a childhood dream has come true. Our fans are great, amazing, this is for them. We are a strong team, maybe we don’t even know how much.”
Feyenoord, who had reached the final without losing a game, meanwhile lost a first decider, having previously won the 1971 Champions Cup plus 1974 and 2002 UEFA Cup.
“It is a terrible feeling,” Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bijlow told ESPN. “We wanted to bring the cup to Rotterdam.”
The match was a cagey affair early on with Roma suffering a setback when injured Henrikh Mkhitaryan had to be replaced by Sergio Oliveira in midfield.
But it was the Romans who drew first blood in the 32nd, with the first shot on target from Zaniolo who flicked past Bijlow after controlling a chipped long ball from Gianluca Mancini.
The promising Zaniolo, 22, was playing his first full season after missing all but 18 months with two severe knee injuries in 2020 and 2021.
Roma only came under threat early in the second half when Mancini deflected a cross against his own post under pressure from Gernot Trauner, goalkeeper Rui Patrico made a big save against Guus Til on the rebound, and shortly afterwards punched a long-range effort from Tyrell Malacia against the crossbar.
“I don’t think we were afraid before half-time but we were much better early in the second half. We got chances then and you could see that they had trouble with us. But unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” Bijlow said.
The Italians won their first trophy of any kind since the Italian Cup in 2008 – and the first in Europe for Italy since Inter’s Champions League success 12 years ago under Mourinho.
UEFA set up the Conference League as their third-tier event to give smaller clubs and nations a chance to play on the continent. Those included Norway’s Bodö/Glimt who had shocked Roma 6-1 in the group stage before going out against them in the quarter-finals.