UEL: De Rossi explains embrace with penalty flop Lukaku [VIDEO]

De Rossi embraced Roma forward Romelu Lukaku, who missed from 12 yards in the shootout success over Feyenoord in Thursday's Europa League tie (Credit: TNT Sports)

UEL: De Rossi explains embrace with penalty flop Lukaku [VIDEO]

Seye Omidiora 12:21 - 23.02.2024

The Roma boss and his Belgian centre-forward shared a passionate embrace after the Giallorossi eliminated Feyenoord on penalties in their Europa League playoff tie at the Olimpico.

Daniele De Rossi has given his reason for hugging Romelu Lukaku after Roma’s Europa League playoff round success over Feyenoord at Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night. The Giallorossi defeated the Eredivisie outfit on penalties after it ended 2-2 on aggregate — 1-1 in both ties — to progress to the knockout stage proper in Europe’s secondary club competition.

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The Roma boss, still new in the role after replacing Jose Mourinho in January, saw off Arne Slot’s men 4-2 on penalties after 120 minutes in Rome produced no winner. Lukaku had the home side’s second penalty saved by Timon Wellenreuther, who dived low to his left and clung to the Belgian’s spot-kick, opening the door for Feyenoord to go ahead in the shootout. However, their next two kicks from 12 yards were thwarted by the impressive Mile Svilar, thus handing the initiative back to Roma.

De Rossi subsequently clarified the hug with Lukaku after the Italian side progressed.

Why I hugged Lukaku — De Rossi

When that moment was put to him, the former Roma midfielder revealed he reserved embraces for every Giallorossi player, as opposed to just the Chelsea loanee.

“I have a wonderful relationship with him [Lukaku],” De Rossi said at a post-match press conference.

“I didn’t know him too well, but he’s a great professional. He ran so much, and when he sprinted at minute 121, he could have brought us to the Round of 16. To end it like this was more thrilling, even if it would have been better for him to end it after 120 minutes. You saw the hug because it was shown on TV, but I hugged all the other players in the same way. I am starting to love these guys.”

Who are Roma facing in the Europa League round of 16?

The draw was held in Nyon on Friday afternoon, with the Serie A side entering as one of the unseeded sides in the round of 16. Rossi’s men will face Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion, pitting two Italian managers against each other, with the Seagulls coached by Roberto De Zerbi.

What comes next for Roma and Lukaku?

The Giallorossi are currently ranked sixth in Serie A, with the capital club four points shy of Atalanta in fourth, albeit having played one more game. Roma travel to Torino next Monday before facing Monza, Fiorentina and Sassuolo before March’s international break.

Lukaku and his teammates then face a touch run-in en route to potentially securing a Champions League return, with Roma playing Lazio on April 6’s Derby della Capitale, high-flying Bologna, Napoli, Juventus and Atalanta before the season's culmination on May 25.