AS Roma grabbed a 1-0 home victory over Bayer Leverkusen in their Europa League semifinal first leg on Thursday thanks to 20-year-old Edoardo Bove‘s second-half goal.
Roma youth product Bove stabbed in the winner on the rebound in the 63rd minute after Tammy Abraham‘s shot was saved by Leverkusen keeper Lukas Hradecky.
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The visitors came close to an equaliser towards the end of a scrappy second half but Jeremie Frimpong‘s 87th-minute shot was blocked on the line.
Roma, bidding to win back-to-back European titles under coach Jose Mourinho following last season’s Europa Conference League triumph, travel to Leverkusen next week for the return leg.
The winners will face Juventus or Sevilla, who drew 1-1 in their first leg, in the final.
“I’m especially happy with the result,” Bove said. “It was essential to win this first half and go there on Thursday with the same desire.
“Today we put great intensity into our game and we are happy. At first they made it difficult for us and it took us a while to adjust but then we controlled the game very well.”
It had all started according to plan for Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen, who have not made a European final since their 2002 appearance in the Champions League showpiece.
In a lively start they came close twice, with Robert Andrich‘s shot saved after 40 seconds and Florian Wirtz wasting a golden chance when he fired wide.
The hosts, missing several players through injury and with Paulo Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum not fully fit yet and on the bench, responded with Roger Ibanez’ powerful header which Hradecky palmed wide with a superb reflex save.
They broke the deadlock just past the hour when Bove started a move and stabbed in on the rebound after Hradecky had saved Tammy Abraham‘s shot.
The visitors almost bagged an unexpected equaliser towards the end of a scrappy second half but Jeremie Frimpong‘s 87th-minute shot was blocked on the line.