Mourinho's tactical change helped his Roma side beat RB Salzburg to progress to the Europa League round of 16.
Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma moved into the Europa League round of 16 after they beat RB Salzburg 2-0 in the second leg of their clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night.
Roma went into the game needing to win by two clear goals after suffering a 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Red Bull Arena last week Thursday.
The Giallorossi did just that as first-half goals from Andrea Belotti and Paulo Dybala sealed their place in the round of 16 draws.
How it happened
Mourinho played the same formation he deployed last week but there was a change in personnel as Leonardo Spinazzola replaced Stephan El Shaarawy in the line-up while Belotti came in for Tammy Abraham up front.
The change proved to be a genius decision from Mourinho as Roma started on the attack from the blast of the whistle.
The Italian side pushed Salzburg back into their half, although the Austrians repelled everything Roma threw at them in the opening 20 minutes.
However, their resistance only lasted for 33 minutes as Spinazzola showed great speed to beat his marker before setting up Belotti with a cross for Roma’s opener.
Belotti’s header raised the roof at the Stadio Olimpico and gave Roma more belief to go for the second.
Mourinho’s men did get their second moments later in a similar fashion to the first goal, with Spinazzola getting involved again.
The Italy international once again used his speed to evade his marker before setting up Dybala, who volleyed home swiftly for Roma’s second.
Dybala’s goal put Roma 2-0 up on the night and 2-1 on aggregate going into the break.
Roma keep Salzburg at Bay
Salzburg manager Matthias Jaissle reacted by bringing on Luka Sučić at half-time for Maurits Kjaergaard.
However, the change had little effect as it was Roma who went close to extending their lead. The Giallorossi almost made it three midway through the second half through a shot from Bryan Cristante, but Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Kohn inadvertently pushed it away for a corner.
Roma continued to push for a third goal to kill off Salzburg’s hopes but were unable to find one.
Nonetheless, it did not matter as Mourinho’s men held on comfortably to seal their place in Friday’s round of 16 draws.
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