AS Roma has won the first final of the new Conference League. Against Feyenoord, however, the Italians have to tremble in the second half. Coach José Mourinho sets up a special brand.

José Mourinho freed himself from the cheering crowd of his assistant coaches and ran happily across the pitch in Tirana. Completely detached, the star coach and his team celebrated AS Roma’s first triumph in the European Cup in 61 years.

After winning the inaugural final of the newly created Conference League, Mourinho became the first coach to win the titles in the three current European football club competitions. In the 1-0 (1-0) win against Feyenoord Rotterdam, Nicolo Zaniolo scored in the 32nd minute in front of 21,690 spectators and decided the final, which was only exciting in the second half.

The 59-year-old Mourinho thus maintained his flawless final record. After triumphing with FC Porto in the Uefa Cup in 2003 and in the Champions League in 2004, with Inter Milan in the premier class in 2010 and with Manchester United in the Europa League in 2017, he won his fifth European Cup final. It was the first European Cup victory for an Italian team since Mourinho’s success with Inter 12 years ago.

The Portuguese had already shed a few tears after entering the final. After all, the Roma’s yearning for another European title had lasted since 1961, when they triumphed in the long-forgotten Fairs Cup. “We knew how much it would mean to everyone in Rome. Every one of us knew we had to win,” said defender Chris Smalling after the cup ceremony.

Zaniolo completes Roma’s first successful attack

Spurred on by thousands of fans, the Romans got more out of the game in Tirana in the first half. With typical Mourinho tactics, the sixth in Serie A relied on control from a secure defence. Because Feyenoord did little offensively, the first half was uneventful for a long time. Only the early end for the injured ex-Dortmunder Henrich Mchitarjan with the Romans moved people’s minds.

With the first successful offensive action, Roma then took the lead. Rotterdam’s Gernot Trauner underestimated Gianluca Mancini’s high pass, the lurking Zaniolo pushed in deliberately.

Feyenoord unlucky after the break

Feyenoord came out of the dressing room as if transformed. First, a defensive attempt by Mancini after a Dutch corner landed on his own post, then Rome keeper Rui Patricio parried Guus Til’s follow-up shot (47′). Three minutes later, the keeper deflected Tyrell Malacia’s powerful shot just over the bar.

Mourinho’s team survived this phase only with effort and luck, and the Romans were rarely able to provide relief. But Feyenoord didn’t take advantage of his chances to equalize and ended up empty-handed.

Riots the night before the game

The night before the final, riots broke out in Tirana between the police and groups of fans from both teams. As the AP news agency reported, 19 police officers and five other people were injured. A police officer was reportedly injured with a knife. There were also fights in the stadium before kick-off, and several Feyenoord fans had to leave the arena.

The capital of Albania expected 100,000 fans from both countries for the final – but both clubs were only entitled to 4,000 tickets each, and the National Arena holds 20,000 people. “If the trend continues, we will have to think about bigger stadiums in the future,” said Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin. At the premiere of the competition, the head of the association said: “The inaugural season went beyond expectations.”