Roma made it two wins in a row under Jose Mourinho on Sunday night, as they followed up their Europa Conference League triumph over Trabzonspor with a 3-1 victory over Fiorentina.
In Mourinho’s first Serie A game as Roma boss and first competitive match at Stadio Olimpico, a crowd of nearly 27,000 people were in attendance again to see the positive start to the new era continue.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the topic of much conversation when Mourinho took over, symbolised the new dawn by scoring the first league goal of the season for Roma, who also earned a man advantage when Bartlomiej Dragowski was sent off for bringing down debutant Tammy Abraham, who had set up the opening goal.
A lapse in concentration saw Roma concede an equaliser, a few minutes after also going down to 10 men themselves after Nicolo Zaniolo – making his first Serie A appearance in over a year – picked up a second yellow.
But Roma’s resilience shone through as a brace from Jordan Veretout against his former side wrapped up the opening win.
Here are five of Mourinho’s key comments after the game.
On what he liked from the performance
“I liked the spirit we showed, the sacrifices we made, the hard work we put in after a really hard game like we had on Thursday [against Trabzonspor].”
On unexpected issues
“We ran into some issues I wasn’t expecting. When it was 11 against 10 we lost a bit of our structure and the pressure dropped – but it should have been easier to apply pressure at that point. Then, when it was 10 against 10, we were back in the game.”
On why he chose to start Abraham
“I decided to start him because, as a target man to work off, he’s better in that role than Shomurodov. Eldor is more of a mobile player who, when he came on, I was thinking that those spaces in behind their defence were made for him to attack. Tammy wanted to come off but, even if he hadn’t been tired, I would have made the same change a few minutes later because Shomurodov is very dangerous when he attacks the spaces, whereas Tammy is more involved in the hold-up.”
On whether Abraham and Eldor Shomurodov can play together
“Definitely – even today we discussed that option, because it’s not easy to leave on the bench a player who has scored in three straight games. Shomurodov can play on the left or in a front two alongside Tammy. The problem is that, right now, I don’t want to think about putting the two together – right now neither of them have the same sharpness as a player who has been training with us since the start of pre-season. So to play them together right now is a bit too risky.”
On winning in front of the fans
“The players gave it everything, despite having played on Thursday, despite having returned at four in the morning and despite not being as fresh as they could have been. That heart, that bond with the fans, is my promise: with me we will always give everything.”