Tammy Abraham rescues Roma from cup shock as Jose Mourinho prepares for Inter return

Portuguese manager will face former club Inter Milan at the San Siro in quarter-finals

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Roma striker Tammy Abraham helped rescue his team from an Italian Cup shock as they came from behind to beat second-tier Lecce 3-1 and seal a place in the quarter-finals.

Jose Mourinho's side have already suffered their fair share of humiliating results this season — highlighted by a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League — and found themselves a down again at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night.

Lecce scored in the 14th minute thanks to a bullet header from Arturo Calabresi, who came through Roma's youth academy and is the son of actor Paolo Calabresi, a well-known television personality in Italy and also a Roma fan. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but was awarded after a VAR check.

Just as the home crowd began to turn on their team, Abraham rose highest to meet Sergio Oliveira's corner five minutes before the break, flicking the ball into the path of Marash Kumbulla who headed home the leveller.

Roma almost took the lead immediately after the break but Lecce substitute goalkeeper Gabriel — who had come on for the injured Marco Bleve in the first half — did well to fingertip Nicolò Zaniolo’s effort on to the right post.

The home side did go in front eight minutes later when Abraham gathered the ball with his back to goal and fired into the bottom left corner.

Any chance Lecce had of getting back into the match all but evaporated when midfielder Mario Gargiulo was shown two yellow cards in as many minutes.

Roma sealed the victory nine minutes from time. Abraham found Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a delightful long ball and the former Manchester United player did even better to control the ball and flick it on for Eldor Shomurodov to race through and place past Gabriel.

Roma will now face Inter Milan — who Mourinho led to the treble of Serie A, Italian Cup the Champions League in 2010 — for a place in the semi-finals.

The Portuguese has returned to San Siro only twice as coach since leaving Inter, both against AC Milan.

“There's a long way to go, we have a few more games and for me there's no doubt Inter are the strongest team and overall squad of the league and the Coppa Italia,” said Mourinho.

“We therefore got the worst possible draw, but we will go there and try to cause a surprise. We'll see if it's possible.

“I don't know how I'll feel being at San Siro. I have to prepare emotionally, the way I did when Roma hosted Inter. I must try to have no emotions and try to make it a game like any other.

“I returned to San Siro to play against Milan and received insults of every kind. People won't do that this time, but we'll see.

“Obviously, my intention is to try to win the game and Inter fans will back their team and coach, but the respect is always there, because people don't forget.”

Updated: January 21, 2022, 10:28 AM
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