Roma boss Jose Mourinho bemoans defending but lauds talisman

Grant de Smidt

Roma coach Jose Mourinho was left irritated by his side despite a 3-2 win at CSKA Sofia on Thursday.

The Giallorossi raced into a 3-0 lead after 53 minutes as Tammy Abraham netted twice and Borja Mayoral converted with a back-heel. Due to Bodo/Glimt drawing 1-1 at Zorya in the other match, Roma topped the Conference league group. With two late goals conceded by Roma, Mourinho appeared annoyed at his side’s defending after the game.


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Speaking to Sky Italia, he said: “We cannot keep creating problems for ourselves. 

“It is not possible that we are winning 2-0 for 45 minutes, then lose the ball repeatedly and sit too deep. The two goals we conceded are unacceptable.

“I am only happy because we won and Zorya did their duty, but that is the only thing that makes me happy tonight.”

One positive from the evening was striker Mayoral scoring for the first time this season. Abraham also reached 100 senior career goals as he moved into double figures for this term.

“He was one of the few positives,” Mourinho said of Mayoral. “His goal was beautiful, but I also liked the work he put in. I am not surprised, because he always works hard.”

Securing first place in the group means Roma avoid having to navigate a two-legged playoff in February. Meaning, they’ll have two open midweeks to rest instead. 

Mourinho said: “We don’t have the squad to play an extra two games. 

“We were fortunate, because that extra round really would’ve been something we didn’t need.”


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Mayoral return boosts Roma attack

Jose Mourinho’s side looking relatively goal-shy this season with just 24 goals scored in 16 Serie A matches, the return to favour of Borja Mayoral is a major boost.

The Spaniard, on a two-season loan from Real Madrid, was strongly linked with Crystal Palace in the summer only for Mourinho to veto the deal.

After scoring 17 goals last season, the striker had played just 124 minutes in all competitions before Thursday’s start at CSKA Moscow. He rewarded his coach with a goal.

Speaking to Roma Press, he said: “Nice goal, good game, nice cold weather as well. A bit too cold for my taste.

“We had a good match, a serious match, at the end we struggled a bit, but we won which was the most important thing. And we also won the group.”

When asked about Mourinho praising his work rate, Mayoral said: “You already know me, I’m someone who works hard for himself and for the team. 

“I can play and do what I know how to do. As I did last year. I am happy with this evening.

“Of course, there’s four or five of us attackers. Now we play with two strikers, first we played with only one. It’s much better for me, for us, I got along very well with Tammy tonight.”

Roma host Spezia on Monday in Serie A as they look to close the gap to the top four. Mourinho’s side have lost consecutive league matches, 1-0 at Bologna and 3-0 at home to Inter Milan.

READ MORE: ‘I am always proud of these boys’ – Roma boss reacts to frustrating defeat