Roma begin life after Mourinho with win over struggling Verona

AFP , Saturday 20 Jan 2024

Daniele De Rossi got off to a winning start to life as Jose Mourinho's successor at Roma on Saturday after his boyhood club beat struggling Verona 2-1 at an emotional Stadio Olimpico.

Roma
Roma's Belgian forward #90 Romelu Lukaku shoots and scores his team's first goal during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Hella Verona FC at the Olympic stadium in Rome on January 20, 2024. Photo: AFP

 

First-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Lorenzo Pellegrini were enough for eighth-placed Roma to see off Verona and give De Rossi a debut win after taking over on Tuesday.

Roma took advantage of fourth-placed Fiorentina not playing a league fixture this weekend due to their Italian Super Cup commitments in Saudi Arabia by moving to within two points of the Champions League positions.

Verona, who have serious financial problems and have unloaded seven players this month, sit just inside the relegation zone after their 12th defeat in 21 matches.

However, Roma didn't have it all their own way as Michael Folorunsho pulled one back with a well-struck shot in the 76th minute which Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio should have kept out.

Earlier Rome-born Folorunsho, who said pre-match that he is a Lazio fan, had a goal disallowed for a soft-looking foul, while Verona striker Milan Djuric smashed a penalty over the bar just after the hour mark.

Former Italy midfielder De Rossi, who played for nearly two decades at Roma, was brought in after Mourinho's sudden sacking.

A large portion of Roma's support is still livid at Mourinho's dismissal, with posters appearing in Rome demanding American billionaire owner Dan Friedkin sell the club.

And the rancour was not dispelled by De Rossi's return, with boos and whistles accompanying the players to the pitch for their pre-match warm-up.

A series of banners displayed in the stands hailed Mourinho, who is still idolised in the Italian capital for winning the Europa Conference League in 2022 and reaching the Europa League final last season.

One said Mourinho would have "eternal glory" while another simply said: "It was a pleasure having you on our side... thank you Jose".

However De Rossi's name rung around the ground just before kick-off and after a hard-fought win which highlighted the difficulty of the task he has taken on.

Later on Saturday AC Milan will try and cut the nine-point gap separating them from league leaders Inter Milan when they face Udinese.

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