79 min: On the strength of their second half performance, Feyenoord deserve an equaliser but Roma’s back three aren’t giving them an inch. The Dutch side are lacking that killer pass and clinical bit of finishing.
75 min: Feyenoord double-substitution: Marcus Pedersen and Bryan Linssen on for Trauner and Nelson.
74 min: From a Roma corner, the ball breaks to Veretout on the edge of the Feyenoord penalty area. His shot takes a deflection and is well saved by Justin Bijlow.
71 min: Feyenoord skipper Gernot Trauner is penalised for a shove on Abraham near the halfway line. Moments later, Spinazzolo wins a croenr for Roma. It’s great to see him back after recovering from the ruptured achilles he suffered while playing for Italy during the Euros. This is only his third appearance this season.
68 min: Tammy Abraham ships a little nudge in the back from Marcos Senesi as he shapes to shoot on goal and fails to connect properly. Senesi, who should have been sent off earlier in this half, is really pushing his luck.
66 min: Roma double-substitution: Leonardo Spinazzola and Jordan Veretout on for Nicola Zalewski and Nicolo Zaniolo.
65 min: Feyenoord substituion from a couple of minutes ago: Jens Toornstra on for Guus Til.
64 min: Feyenoord have been outstanding in this second half but Roma are defending stoutly. Chris Smalling has been the standout performer in their defence.
62 min: More pressure from Feyenoord, whose players combine well to tee up Kokcu. He drags his shot wide of the far post with Dessers unable to get enough of a touch on the ball to divert it goalwards.
60 min: Desssers takes advantage of a Smalling slip to go through on the Roma goal. Roger Ibanez gets back to defend heroically and prevent the Feyenoord
58 min: Another short corner from Feyenoord. The ball is eventually zipped into the box by Malacia and Kokcu’s shot is blocked by Smalling, who flings himself in front of the ball.
55 min: Germany’s Marco Fritz is in charge of VAR in this game and it’s difficult to understand how he hasn’t advised a red card for Marcos Senesi there. It was an obvious foul on Abraham which prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.
53 min: Running on to a through ball a couple of yards outside the Feyenoord penalty area, Tammy Abraham hgas his arm yanked back by Marcos Senesi. He stays on his feet and no foul is given. That should be a red card for Senesi but none is forthcoming, presumably because Abraham stayed on his feet. Feyenoord have dodged a massive bullet there.
51 min: From the set-piece, Feyenoord get the flick on. The ball drifts across the face of goal but Cyriel Dessers can’t connect as it’s just out of reach.
50 min: So close for Feyenoord. Following an excellent move, Malacia shoots from distance. His effort is saved on to the upright by Rui Patricio. Feyenoord have another corner.
48 min: There’s a VAR check for a handball but Feyenoord have to settle for a corner. Left-back Tyrell Malacia sends the ball into the mixer, where a backpedalling Patricio gathers. Feyenoord are off to something of a flyer in this second half.
47 min: Feyenoord win a corner. Kokcu plays it short to Sinsterra, receives the return pass and Mancini hits the ball against his own post. The ball rebounds to Guus Til, whose shot from 14 yards out is saved brillitantly by Rui Patricio. Oof!
46 min: Roma resume play, aiming to protect their one-goal lead. It’s been a very “Mourinho” final so far and it’s all going to the Portuguese manager’s plan so far.
Peep! It’s been a half that won’t live long in the memory of anyone who witnessed it and one of very few chances. Roma are edging proceedings, however – Nicolo Zaniolo putting them ahead with a well taken finish, his sixth goal in the competition this season.
45+3 min: Good work from Feyenoord’s Luthsharel Geertruida helps earn his side a corner in the knockings of the first half. Kokcu sends the ball into the Roma penalty area, where Rui Patricio claims it comfortably.
45+2 min: Feyenoord play it long from a free-kick halfway inside their own half, trying to pick out Cyriel Dessers. Roma clear up at the back, crowding him off the ball and Chris Smalling hoofs the ball downfield.
45 min: The ball breaks to Feyenoord’s Reiss Nelson on the edge of the Roma penalty area and he pulls the trigger. Lorenzo Pellegrini is back to block.
43 min: Roma corner. Pellegrini sends the ball to the near post, where Cristante tries to get the flick on. He misses the ball and Feyenoord break upfield. Roma get back to defend in numbers.
40 min: Rui Patrico saves a swerving shot from distance from Feyenoord’s Orkum Kokcu quite comfrotably, as the Dutch side’s striker Dessers goes down injured on the edge of the penalty area. He’ll live.
37 min: Excellent defending from Smalling, who tracks the run of Cyriel Dessers and dispossesses the Feyenoord striker. There’s a minor kerfuffle in the wake of his challenge and Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini gets booked for sticking his beak in where referee Istvan Kovacs feels it isn’t required.
36 min: Roma win a corner. Lorenzo Pellegrini sends the ball into the Feyenoord penalty area, where Chris Smalling gets his head to it. It’s easy for the Dutch club’s goalkeeper Justin Bijlow.
Roma Lead! Nicolo Zaniolo fires them ahead, chesting down a cross wonderfully after Gernot Trauner misread the flight of the ball from the left and side-footing home over the advancing goalkeeper with the outside of his left foot.
29 min: Feyenoord advance. A Cyriel Dessers shot from distance takes a deflection, loops up in the air and is gathered by Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio before it bounces wide of the upright.
27 min: Lorenzo Pellegrini sends a free-kick from way, way out into the Feyenoord box but the ball sails straight into the gloves of Justin Bijlow. As thinks stand, this inaugural Europa Conference League final is certainly not shaping up to be one of the great European showpiece events.
26 min: Feyenoord centre-back Gernot Trauner is penalised and booked for a cynical challenge on Tammy Abraham, treading on the foot of the Englishman to put a stop to his gallop upfield.
25 min: Pelllegrini tries to pick out a Zaniolo run into the Feyenoord penalty area but overhits his pass. The ball rolls harmlessly to the feet of Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bijlow.
23 min: Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo is brought down on the halfway line and his side win a free-kick.
21 min: Almost a quarter-way through the 90 minutes and this game remains tight as a drum. Neither side has had anything resembling a decent opportunity or shot on goal yet.
17 min: Roma substitution: Having struggled to be fit for this game, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is sitting on the floor, hands on his knees and shaking his head. He’s done for the night and walks off looking very disconsolate. Sergio Oliveira replaces him. Bad luck, Henrikh.
15 min: Pellegrini drives forward for Roma, running diagonally from the left flank towards the centre of the pitch. He tries to pick out Lorenzo Pellegrini with a ball in behind the Feyenoord defence but it’s intercepted.
13 min: Feyenoord win a throw-in down near the corner flag deep in Roma territory. Nothing comes of it.
11 min: Ne’er a chance for either team to report yet and on balance of play so far you’d probably say Feyenoord are having slightly the better of it.
9 min: Good work from Feyenoord’s Luis Sinisterra (kind of the Latin for left-handed) down the left flank. His delivery is poor, however, and his cross goes straight into the gloves of Bijlow at the near post.
8 min: A Roma cross sent in from the right by Rick Karsdrop is a mite too high for Lorenzo Pellegrino, who’d made a smart run from midfield. Feyenoord clear.
5 min: Playing his first match since early March after being sidelined with a foot injury, Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bijlow receives a backpass and hammers the ball upfield. It drops on a Roma head.
4 min: Smalling concedes a second throw-in in quick succession deep in Roma territory. Nothing comes of it.
3 min: On the left of Roma’s back three, Chris Smalling wins a through ball from deep at the expense of Cyriel Desswers and wellies it downfield. It goes out for a throw-in near the halfway line.
2 min: There is no quarter being spared or given in these very early stages as both teams fight for the ball.
1 min: Feyenoord get the ball rolling, their players wearing grey shirts, yellow shorts and yellow socks. The players of Roma wear red shirts, shorts and socks.
Not long now: Referee Istvan Kovacs and his team of match officials lead the players of both teams out on to the pitch in Tirana and they loine up ahead of the last of the pre-match formalities. The stadium is full to it’s 22,000 capacity. One suspects these sides could have easily filled one four or five times larger.
Up for grabs! Whoever wins tonight’s final will get themselves a berth in next season’s Europa League. But what’s this? Neither of them need it because they’ve both already qualified for the competition by dint of their finishing positions in their respective domestic leagues.
Roma got a top-six finish in Serie A, while Feyenoord finished third in Eredivisie. There is, however, a shiny pot and a big cheque worth €4.25m to play for in tonight’s final.
Roma: Rui Patricio, Smalling, Ibanez, Mancini, Cristante, Karsdorp, Mkhitaryan, Pellegrini, Zalewski, Zaniolo, Abraham.
Subs: Vina, Perez, Shomurodov, Maitland-Niles, Veretout, Kumbulla, Sergio Oliveira, Spinazzola, Bove, Afena-Gyan, Fuzato, El Shaarawy.
Feyenoord: Bijlow, Geertruida, Trauner, Senesi, Malacia, Aursnes, Kokcu, Nelson, Til, Sinisterra, Dessers.
Subs: Pedersen, Hendrix, Jahanbakhsh, Linssen, Sandler, Cojocaru, Marciano, Walemark, Hendriks, Toornstra, Jansen, Hall.
Arne Slot speaks: “His CV makes you wary of his team,” said Slot of his opposite number. “He is known for winning many finals. But we mainly have to focus on his team, the tactics and the different ways they play. We shouldn’t pay too much attention to the fact that he has such an impressive track record in finals.”
Jose Mourinho speaks: “If I win I will become the first one to win all European trophies, but that’s only if I win,” said Roma’s manager ahead of tonight’s match. “When you arrive at a final after a season of work, the work is done. It’s the team’s moment, not the moment of an individual.
“I don’t believe in magical potions, I don’t believe in magical spells. There’s nothing special to be done, just us to be us as a team. Knowing the qualities we have, knowing the limitations we have. For me, no matter how the final ends, this is a positive season for us.”
Tonight’s match officials
- Referee: István Kovács
- Assistant referees: Vasile Marinescu and Ovidiu Artene
- Fourth official: Sandro Schärer
- Video Assistant Referee: Marco Fritz
Early team news …
Along with Chris Smalling in Roma’s defence, Tammy Abraham looks certain to provide English representation in this final, spearheading the Italian side’s attack having banged in 28 goals in all competitions during a successful first season for the club.
Behind him, Nicolo Zaniolo could start in midfield after playing the final 14 minutes of Roma’s 3-0 win at Torino on Friday after recovering from a muscle injury. Elsewhere in the Roma midfield, Bryan Cristante could start in place of Jordan Veretout. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also available for selection following his recovery from a hamstring injury he suffered against Leicester.
Also flying the flag for England, Reiss Nelson is likely to line up for Feyenoord at the end of his season at the Dutch club on loan from Arsenal. Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bijlow is just back in training following a spell out injured since March and will probably have to settle for a place on the bench, with his more match fit understudy Ofir Marciano getting the nod. On loan from Genk, Cyriel Dessers is the top scorer in the competition with 10 goals and will play up front for the Dutch side.
The Albanian city of Tirana is the venue for the inaugural Europa Conference League final, to be contested by Roma and Feyenoord. Greeted with some suspicion and a little derision upon it’s launch, the competition has actually proved quite the success.
Tonight’s finallists have played 36 matches between them in the competition thus far and tonight either Jose Mourinho or the considerably less famous Arne Slot will mastermind victory for their side in the first ever final. Kick-off at the 22,000-seater Arena Kombëtare is at 8pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.