Jose Mourinho praised his Roma players for holding on with 10 men to claim a 1-0 win against Udinese that saw the Portuguese equal Massimiliano Allegri's record unbeaten home run in Serie A.

Tammy Abraham scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in Thursday's clash at Stadio Olimpico with a flicked finish nine minutes before half-time.

Roma struggled in the second half as they saw less of the ball than Udinese (47.4 per cent) and were out-shot seven to two, with Rui Patricio forced into a couple of saves.

The Giallorossi had to play the final stages a man light after Lorenzo Pellegrini was issued a second yellow card for catching Lazar Samardzic with his elbow, but they saw out their fourth victory in five league games this term.

That includes three successive wins at Stadio Olimpico under Mourinho, who is now 41 without defeat on home soil in the Italian top flight going back to his hugely successful tenure at Inter.

He is one short of taking the outright record in the three-points-per-win era (since 1994-95), with Allegri's previous benchmark set between September 2015 and September 2017 during his first spell in charge of Juventus.

Mourinho was pleased to pick up all three points against Udinese and move up to fourth in the standings, but he acknowledged his side dropped off in the second half of the contest.

"We played well for about 35 minutes," he said at his post-match news conference. "We had total control of the game, 1-0 is little for what we did. In the second half we struggled a bit more, and they reacted.

"We had to suffer a bit. But we did so as a team. We played about six or seven minutes with a man less and fought hard for the three points."

 

Pellegrini's contentious dismissal means that he is set to miss Sunday's Derby della Capitale showdown with bitter rivals Lazio, but Mourinho suggested he intends to appeal against the decision.

"It was ridiculous. We had an educational meeting with the referee chiefs and the rules were explained for two hours," Mourinho said. "Then we get to the game and see a red like this.

"I can't say anything except that it was ridiculous. Football is and always will be football. You cannot change it into a non-contact sport."

Mourinho added to DAZN: "I don't know the legal mechanisms in Italian football, but if we can appeal, then we must try. I have many doubts that anyone could say that was a deserved second yellow card. 

"If there's a way of appealing this card, then we must do that and allow him to play on Sunday."

Roma have now scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, a tally that is bettered by only Bayern Munich (38), Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund (both 23) among clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

Abraham has been responsible for three of those and, with his strike against Udinese, became the first English striker to score a home goal in Serie A since Jay Bothroyd against Ancona with Perugia back in May 2004.

The recent signing from Chelsea has made a massive impact since joining, having also chipped in with a couple of assists, and he is grateful to have been made to feel so welcome in his new surroundings.

"I knew there was a lot of pressure with me coming in, but I love the fans, the staff, they make me feel like family from the first day and I need to repay them," he told DAZN.

"I came here to win, I love to win, the boys look to me, I have to give them confidence, and hopefully we'll continue getting results."

Could Raheem Sterling leave Premier League champions Manchester City?

The Englishman has slipped down the pecking order in 2021-22.

LaLiga giants Barcelona are reportedly ready to offer Sterling regular football.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA INTERESTED IN STERLING

Barcelona are targeting a loan move for Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Sport.

Sterling has fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola this season, leading to speculation over his City future.

The England international is reportedly open to reunion with former City team-mate Sergio Aguero at Barca.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Independent claims Manchester United are prioritising a move for West Ham's Declan Rice. The Red Devils are eyeing Rice to partner Paul Pogba, who himself is the subject of transfer speculation. Out of contract at the end of the season, Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Lazio are interested in free agent Dani Alves following his Sao Paulo exit, reports Calciomercato. The former Barca and Juve full-back terminated his contract and reportedly met with Brazilian rivals Flamengo.

- Fabrizio Romano says Roma are preparing a new five-year contract for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been linked with Premier League clubs.

- Serie A champions Inter are weighing up a move for Torino defender Bremer at the end of the season, says Calciomercato. The Brazilian has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- According to Calciomercato, City have not given up on signing Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic. The Serbia international forward was linked with City as well as Tottenham, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid before the transfer window closed.

Luka Jovic is on the radar of Juventus, per Calciomercato. Jovic is out of favour at Madrid, with the Serbia international originally tipped to return to Eintracht Frankfurt on a permanent basis.

Lorenzo Pellegrini said Roma are dreaming of Serie A glory after maintaining their perfect start to the season by routing newly promoted Salernitana 4-0.

Roma captain Pellegrini scored twice as the Giallorossi made it two wins from two matches to open the 2021-22 league campaign on Sunday.

Jordan Veretout and new signing Tammy Abraham were also on target for Roma, who have scored at least seven goals in their first two Serie A matches for just the second time since the 1970s, having defeated Fiorentina 3-1 on matchday one.

Roma have not won the Scudetto since 2000-01, having failed to finish in the top four in 2019 (sixth), 2020 (fifth) and 2021 (seventh).

Former Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Mourinho is in his first season with Roma and after fans were signing about the Scudetto, Italy international Pellegrini told DAZN: "We hope one day to make that dream come true.

"It does feel different this year, we are told to take it one game at a time, and this time it really is the approach we take.

"We will never speak about the next match, no matter how important it is, until this one has been played."

Mourinho became the third Roma head coach to win his first two Serie A games in charge since 2000, after Claudio Ranieri in 2009-10 and Rudi Garcia in 2013-14.

Roma, meanwhile, have won both their first two Serie A games for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

"I'm really pleased, we won a game that wasn't straightforward," said Pellegrini, who has scored five of his last six Serie A goals against newly promoted teams.

"It wasn't easy to find the goal but we managed to do it at the start of the second half and after that it was much easier."

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho joked that if he could multiply star Lorenzo Pellegrini, they would all be in his starting XI.

Pellegrini has established himself as an integral part of the Roma side since arriving via Sassuolo in 2017, with the Giallorossi captain's exploits reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester United.

Among midfielders last season, Pellegrini led Roma in chances created (65), interceptions (43), tackles won (24) and penalty area entries (241), having also scored seven goals and supplied six assists with a passing accuracy of 82 per cent.

In Roma's season-opening 3-1 win over Fiorentina in Serie A last week, the 25-year-old created two chances while boasting a 93.3 passing accuracy, to go with three recoveries, two through balls and five penalty area entries.

Mourinho hailed the Italy international ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League clash against Turkish visitors Trabzonspor.

"He can do everything," Mourinho told reporters, with Roma leading 2-1 after the first leg.

"If we had three Pellegrini's, they would all be starting the game at the same time. They would never stay all three in the bench.

"He is multifunctional, he can adapt to different roles. The other day when we were 10 he played on the internal part of the right flank and created the chance for Tammy [Abraham] to hit the crossbar.

"He is smart, can understand the game and my ideas. If there were three of him, they would all play."

Real Madrid's desire to sign a new forward is not a secret.

The Spanish giants missed out on silverware in 2020-21, much to their dismay.

Carlo Ancelotti has replaced Zinedine Zidane as head coach with big expectations.

 

TOP STORY - MADRID TARGET SALAH IF MBAPPE FAILS

Ancelotti has told Real Madrid president Florentino Perez he wants to sign Liverpool's Mohamed Salah , reports Fichajes.

The Italian believes Los Blancos needs another forward, with Salah seen as his back-up plan if they fail to land Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

Madrid's financial situation is complicated, with the club not making any major signings in 2020-21 amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they appear determined to land a major forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- 90min reports that Manchester United's Jesse Lingard has emerged as a target for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, having caught Diego Simeone's eye during his loan spell at West Ham United.

- Chelsea have shopped around striker Tammy Abraham and Arsenal are interested, according to The Telegraph.

- The Athletic believes Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, although he has a £26m (€30m) release clause.

-  Poor relations between Spurs and Southampton, stemming from 2020's Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg deal, may scupper a proposed move for Danny Ings, according to Standard Sport.

- Newly promoted Brentford are set to splash a club record transfer fee of £13.5m to land Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, claims The Telegraph.

The Jadon Sancho saga continues.

A move to Manchester United has long been mooted for England international Sancho.

While United and Borussia Dortmund negotiate, could Sancho's future be set to become clearer?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HAVE OFFER REBUFFED

Manchester United have had their first offer for Jadon Sancho rejected by Borussia Dortmund, according to the BBC.

United have long been interested in Sancho, with the Premier League giants unable to prise Sancho from Dortmund before the 2020-21 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are back again for England international Sancho, though their initial £67million (€77.9m) bid will not suffice as Dortmund hold out for at least £77.5m (€90.1m).

 

ROUND-UP

- If United miss out on Sancho, Sport1 claims the Red Devils will turn to Kingsley Coman after registering their interest in the Bayern Munich winger.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are interested in Roma and Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini. The 24-year-old is out of contract in 2022 and Liverpool and Atletico Madrid are also eyeing the Italian.

United and Liverpool are set to go head-to-head for Argentina defender Cristian Romero, per Calciomercato. Romero has impressed during his loan spell with Atalanta from Juventus. Atalanta are expected to trigger a clause to sign the 23-year-old permanently as they then look to receive a big fee.

- Ronald Koeman is the key to Barca signing Memphis Depay, reports Mundo Deportivo. Depay is a free agent following the conclusion of his Lyon contract.

Barcelona have offered Antoine Griezmann to Juve, according to Calciomercato. With Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Turin uncertain, Juve could be tempted by Griezmann's availability. Juve have also been linked with Tottenham star Harry Kane, who is reportedly wanted by United, Manchester City, Chelsea, BarcaReal Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Italy have been dealt a blow on the eve of Euro 2020, with Lorenzo Pellegrini set to missing out after sustaining an injury in training.

The Roma midfielder, who has been linked with Barcelona and Liverpool in recent weeks, was due to play in his first international tournament after being included in Roberto Mancini's squad.

He featured three times in qualifying, with Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella the only central midfielders to play more games than him.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a solid season for the Giallorossi, his 13 goal involvements (seven scored, six assists) bettered by only eight midfielders – though among them were individuals who play in more advanced roles, such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Josip Ilicic.

 

Although he would ordinarily be considered a back-up for the Azzurri, his withdrawal comes as a considerable blow given Mancini is already without Stefano Sensi, and Verratti is a doubt for the Turkey clash.

Additionally, Pellegrini proved himself an able creator for Roma this term, his 65 key passes the sixth highest among Serie A midfielders.

But he will have to watch on with the rest of Italy's fans over the next month, with Mancini's side starting the tournament against Turkey on Friday.

"Unfortunately this damn thigh problem will not allow me to play this European Championship," he wrote on his official Instagram account.

"There is a lot of bitterness right now ... but it is now that we need to hug even more and cheer on this fantastic group of real men who will surely give their souls to every game from start to finish.

"I believe it. Come on guys, come on Italy. All together."

Italy confirmed they have asked UEFA for permission to replace him in the squad with technically gifted Fiorentina midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli, 24.

Manchester City's ambitions are showing no end after missing out on the Champions League title.

City have been linked with star England pair Harry Kane and Jack Grealish to further bolster the Premier League champions.

But the price tags on the duo from Tottenham and Aston Villa may be their stumbling blocks.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SALE TO FUND KANE AND GREALISH MOVES

Manchester City will offload several fringe players to raise £70million in order to fund their moves for Tottenham star Harry Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims the Daily Mail.

With Sergio Aguero departed, City manager Pep Guardiola wants a frontline striker and those surplus to requirements will reportedly be let go.

First-team players Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez all have admirers and could move on.

But also fringe talent like Yangel Herrera, Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison, Pedro Porro and Lukas Nmecha, who have had loan spells elsewhere, could be cashed in.

Bernardo Silva has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in exchange for Saul Niguez, while Juventus are reportedly eyeing Gundogan.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on Inter's Achraf Hakimi and have lodged €60m (£52m) offers, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter's asking price may be higher, while Chelsea may utilise Emerson Palmieri or Andreas Christensen as part of a swap deal.

- Bild says Borussia Dortmund will sell Jadon Sancho to United if they receive a suitable offer by the end of July. Sancho has long been tipped to swap Dortmund for United.

- Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is being linked with LaLiga champions Atletico and Real Betis by CBS Sport, while Sport have also claimed Juve are interested in the Spaniard, utilising Aaron Ramsey in a swap deal.

Liverpool are looking to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, lining up Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are ready this month to step up their bid to sign Jesse Lingard permanently from Manchester United after his excellent loan spell.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Arsenal are set to finalise the details on a new contract for young talent Emile Smith Rowe.

Crystal Palace are closed to appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as their new manager to replace Roy Hodgson, claims The Telegraph.

Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe – the two parties have long been tipped to come together.

Mbappe is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in 2022 and no closer to renewing his deal.

Madrid are reportedly moving closer to prising the France international to the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE POISED FOR MADRID MOVE?

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is edging closer to joining LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap PSG for Madrid, though the Ligue 1 holds continue to try to re-sign the World Cup-winning forward.

PSG's Mbappe is determined to win the Champions League as he eyes the Santiago Bernabeu.


 

ROUND-UP

- Le Parisien, though, claims PSG are holding out hope on teaming Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi with Mbappe and Neymar in Paris. Messi is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG and Manchester City. Neymar has also been linked with a Barca return. However, Le Parisien reports PSG are prioritising a move for Messi while trying to retain Neymar and Mbappe.

Lautaro Martinez is on the verge of signing a new contract with Serie A champions Inter, says Gazzetta dello Sport. The Inter forward has been linked with Barca previously.

- Tuttosport reports star Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is a primary transfer target for Serie A rivals Juventus. Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international has not agreed fresh terms with Milan.

Borussia Dortmund will ask for less than €100million (£86m) to sell Jadon Sancho amid interest from United, Chelsea and Liverpool, says Fabrizio Romano.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are eyeing Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini as incoming Giallorossi boss Jose Mourinho looks to overhaul the squad in the Italian capital. The front page of Thursday's Gazzetto dello Sport, meanwhile, claims Mourinho is looking to bring Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic and Madrid's Isco to Roma.

- Soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero is dreaming of a Barcelona move, according to Romano. InterTottenham and Chelsea have also emerged as options for the veteran forward.

Maurizio Sarri is a candidate to take charge of Milan if Stefano Pioli fails to guide the Rossoneri into the Champions League, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. Sarri was reportedly set to join Roma before Mourinho's appointment.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli and Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad are on Barca's shortlist to replace Sergio Busquets, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes both scored twice as Manchester United thrashed Roma 6-2 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

Fernandes opened the scoring in a thriller at Old Trafford on Thursday, but Roma led 2-1 at half-time despite losing three players due to injury – including goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

Lorenzo Pellegrini equalised with a controversial penalty and Edin Dzeko put the Serie A side in front, but the Red Devils stormed back in stunning fashion in the second half.

The magnificent Cavani struck twice and Fernandes sealed a brace of his own with another questionable spot-kick before Paul Pogba – who gave away that harsh first-half penalty – added a fifth.

Mason Greenwood had the final say to put United firmly on course for the final ahead of the second leg at Stadio Olimpico in seven days' time.

The Giallorossi lost Jordan Veretout to a hamstring injury early on, Gonzalo Villar replacing him in midfield, and they suffered another blow when Fernandes opening the scoring with a superbly worked goal in the ninth minute.

Pogba turned sharply and burst forward before finding Cavani, whose clever first-time pass sent Fernandes through and the Portugal midfielder calmly lifted the ball over goalkeeper Lopez and into the net.

Roma were level six minutes later, with Pogba seemingly harshly penalised for handling when he slid in trying to block a cross and Pellegrini made no mistake from the spot.

Antonio Mirante took over in goal after Lopez injured himself saving a shot from Pogba with less than half an hour gone, but the Eternal City club were in front 33 minutes in.

Former United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked out Pellegrini with a brilliant reverse pass and the captain set Dzeko up for a tap-in.

Leonardo Spinazzola became the third Roma player to make an early exit due to injury and Mirante denied Cavani when he was gifted a great opportunity by some poor defending just before the break.

Cavani showed his class to equalise a couple of minutes into the second half, though, finding the top corner with a clinical first-time finish after Fernandes played him in.

The Uruguay striker then showed his predatory instincts to put the Red Devils back in front after 64 minutes, tucking in from close range after Mirante could only palm Aaron Wan-Bissaka's shot into his path.

Fernandes gave United breathing space when he expertly converted from the penalty spot after ex-United defender Chris Smalling was contentiously adjudged to have fouled Cavani as he tried to complete a hat-trick.

The inspirational Fernandes turned provider once again for United's fifth goal, delivering a pinpoint cross for Pogba to head home and Greenwood slid in a sixth following another sublime assist from Cavani four minutes from time.

Roma are ready to step up to the challenge of taking on Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Europa League despite an unconvincing display against Ajax.

Serie A side Roma reached just their second Europa League/UEFA Cup semi-final with a 1-1 draw at home to Ajax on Thursday.

That result was enough to advance 3-2 on aggregate following an away win in the first leg, but Roma were made to work by the Eredivisie giants, who dominated 71.7 per cent of the possession.

Roma trailed to Brian Brobbey's second-half strike, although Edin Dzeko eased nerves slightly in the Stadio Olimpico with his equaliser 18 minutes from time.

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini told Sky Sport: "We showed tonight that we're growing. We're happy but we can't get too euphoric; this is only the semi-final.

"We want to play three more games in this competition - we'll have to improve in order to do so.

"Now we face Manchester United. We realise that if we want to do something great, we have to beat those who are great."

Pellegrini has the Roma armband after Dzeko's row with head coach Paulo Fonseca saw him stripped of the captaincy.

Dzeko at least has his place back, though, and he became the fourth player to score 30 European goals for the same Italian club, following in the footsteps of Alessandro Del Piero (at Juventus) and Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko (both at Milan).

The Bosnian striker netted with his only shot on target and created a further chance for Pellegrini, who led Roma in attempts (three) and key passes (two).

"There have been many ups and downs," Dzeko said. "This season wasn't my best on a personal level for many reasons.

"I don't like looking at the past; what happened has happened, we have to look to the future.

"There are many players here playing their first semi-final and we've got to enjoy it, because playing at Old Trafford doesn't happen every day."

Dzeko at least has some experience of the Old Trafford arena, having won on two of his three Premier League trips as a Manchester City player.

Indeed, the 35-year-old scored four league goals away to United, as well as providing two assists.

Now, Dzeko will return to Manchester with Roma, believing his current side have nothing to fear against the tournament favourites.

"If we're in the semi-final, then of course we can [be at the same level]," he said. "It certainly hasn't been an easy path, as Braga, Shakhtar Donetsk and Ajax were basically the toughest draws we could get.

"Now we are facing another big name, but Roma are a big name, too, and we must give everything to reach the final."

Gianluca Mancini's late header rescued a 2-2 draw for Roma after fellow Serie A title contenders Inter produced a second-half fightback on Sunday.

Lorenzo Pellegrini gave Roma a first-half lead at the Stadio Olimpico but Inter roared back after the break.

Milan Skriniar deservedly equalised with a header and Achraf Hakimi put Antonio Conte's side in front seven minutes later.

Mancini stunned Inter four minutes from time, though, heading home to leave the Nerazzurri three points adrift of league leaders Milan.

 

 

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