Kelechi Iheanacho

City's UECL Journey Ends In Rome

A 1-0 loss to AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico saw Leicester City exit the UEFA Europa Conference League at the semi-finals stage by a 2-1 aggregate scoreline on Thursday night.
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The atmosphere was building a good two hours before the match got underway at Stadio Olimpico, where 3,450 members of the Blue Army had made their way to the Italian capital in the hope of witnessing a historic night for the Football Club. As they trickled into the stadium to take their seats and unfurl their City-themed flags, the noise began to rise from the away end.

With just under 90 minutes until kick-off, team news was announced. Manager Brendan Rodgers was able to make 10 changes to the side that faced Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League four days prior. An entirely fresh outfield line-up meant Kasper Schmeichel was the only man to remain. City's customary walk out onto the pitch even drew attention from the home crowd - a tense night awaited the Foxes, who in large spells had dominated against Roma just a week ago.

The visitors enjoyed time on the ball in the opening stages. Youri Tielemans struck towards goal from 25 yards, but Chris Smalling blocked the attempt. After James Justin received some treatment on the pitch for a knock, the resulting corner came in and Wesley Fofana was hauled to the ground by Smalling. City's penalty claims were waved away, and there would be no intervention from VAR on this occasion.

A superb save from Schmeichel kept Lorenzo Pellegrini's free-kick out on eight minutes, and then Smalling headed over from a corner. Pellegrini, scorer of Roma's first-leg goal, threatened for the second time in quick succession. This time, the ball deflected wide and, while City defended the first corner successfully, Tammy Abraham headed in the follow-up delivery from six yards. Advantage Roma.

Academy graduate Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall then won possession of the ball and curled a deflected attempt high and wide of Rui Patrício's goal shortly after. In came the corner, and once again Roma defended with physicality, with Jonny Evans appearing to be fouled. A goal for Roma and two unsuccessful penalty appeals for the Foxes inside the opening 15 minutes. 

Pellegrini's forward presence was notable, and it took a solid save from Schmeichel at his near post to parry the Roma captain's half-volley away to safety. Fofana had to stand up to the shot of Nicolò Zaniolo just after the half-hour mark. Leicester were battling away, waiting to muster up a clear-cut chance to level matters.

A heavy challenge from Gianluca Mancini on Dewsbury-Hall saw the first yellow card of the match, issued four minutes before the interval. A few moments later, Roger Ibañez got his body in the way of Lookman's left-footed attempt, while Ricardo Pereira's strike hit Pellegrini. The men in mint were a goal behind at the break, but were still very much in the tie.

Half-time stats indicated Leicester had enjoyed more possession, made more passes, had more touches of the ball and had made more tackles than their Italian counterparts. In the second 45 minutes, their task would be to be more productive in the final third.

A half-time, Daniel Amartey replaced Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho came on for Harvey Barnes in a brace of substitutions which also brought about a change in formation. Rodgers' side, despite trailing, were buoyed by the introductions and began to gain a foothold in the match.

Leicester were dominating possession after the break. If they lost it, they'd win it back straight away. That's exactly what happened on 57 minutes, with Maddison sliding in before locating Dewsbury-Hall, who was off target from range. City were in the ascendancy. 

A clever short corner from Maddison into Vardy presented the No.9 with a considerable opportunity, however goalscorer Abraham was positioned well to head away his first-time effort. At the other end, from a Pellegrini corner, Smalling headed harmlessly off target.

Fofana was next into the book after picking up a yellow card for fouling Abraham near to the halfway line in one of few Roma attacks in the second half. With just over 20 minutes to play, a third change of the night saw Ricardo replaced by Timothy Castagne. Fresh legs at right full-back.

Another off-target long-ranger from Dewsbury-Hall failed to threaten Patrício's goal. The Foxes were still well in control of possession, however Roma's compact midfield and defence were proving hard to break down. A fourth substitution, with around 15 minutes to go, meant Ayoze Pérez would bolster the City attack in place of Dewsbury-Hall.

Roma were closing space at lightning speed, allowing little room for the visiting attackers. On 79 minutes, Maddison curled into the arms of Patrício. Then, Castagne blocked Zalewski's far-post shot as José Mourinho's outfit targeted a second to kill off the game.

Neat play from Maddison and then Justin carved out a chance for Iheanacho, with the Nigeria star catching the ball well, but Patrício was there once more to deny City. The fixture was heading for a dramatic finale with five minutes of added time to be played at Stadio Olimpico.

Two minutes into the five, Maddison's effort deflected off a Roma man and flashed off target, however a goal-kick was awarded to Roma. On 94 minutes, with Roma trying to claim territory in the Leicester half, Schmeichel had to make an instinctive save to deny Sérgio Oliveira.

City pumped the ball forward with only seconds to play, however there would be no late equaliser. Their Europa Conference League journey ended in the Eternal City, but Rodgers' squad can be proud of reaching the Club's maiden European semi-final, and the sides they overcame to get there.

Major moment

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Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans challenges Tammy Abraham, who scored the only goal of the game to send Roma through.

Tammy Abraham's 11th-minute header ultimately sealed AS Roma's berth in the final. City threatened in various stages, but the hosts were once again stubborn at the back and would not yield.

Who impressed?

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Wesley Fofana

Brendan Rodgers consoles Wesley Fofana at the full-time whistle.

Reporting live from Rome for LCFC Radio's Matchday Live, co-commentator Matt Elliott said: "James Maddison tried to get things going, and Kasper Schmeichel made a couple of good saves, but I’ll go with Wesley Fofana tonight."

Where do we stand?

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Brendan Rodgers

The manager heads over to the travelling Blue Army, of which 3,450 were in attendance at Stadio Olimpico.

The Foxes bow out at the semi-final stage. Roma will face Feyenoord on Wednesday 25 May in Tirana, Albania in the final.

Coming up...

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Youri Tielemans

The Belgium international applauds the Foxes fans who made the journey to Rome.

Leicester's Premier League campaign resumes on Sunday with a Premier League fixture versus Everton at King Power Stadium (2pm kick-off), while Norwich City visit Filbert Way three days later (7:45pm kick-off). 

All times BST.

Leicester City Crest

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