José Mourinho praised his players for their spirited 2-1 victory over Lecce, despite leaving it until the death to secure the win. The Giallorossi went behind to a Pontus Almqvist opener but fought back in stoppage time through Sardar Azmoun and Romelu Lukaku, winning the match with just minutes left on the clock.
Speaking with DAZN in the post-match, Mourinho analysed the match, joking that goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone always plays well against Roma:
“A cursed match? I wanted to talk to the players afterwards, because the game was not over. There were still a few minutes to play and the team was unbalanced. We today took the old philosophy of whether you win by 1 or 10, it is the same.
“We won though, we ended up playing with 5 attackers, with Belotti fifth on the right. The guys are extraordinary, the crowd is extraordinary, because usually a team that loses at home 1-0 with 10 minutes to go, usually this connection and passion between the players and the fans is not normal. They deserved it, fans and players. For the ending, because they had heart and responded to a very risky situation.
“Lecce did not betray what I said yesterday, very orderly and organized, with those three fast attackers on the counterattack. I’m sorry for them, because they did an extraordinary job, and for Falcone, because he says he is a great Romanista, but when he plays against Roma he deserves the Yashin cup, because he parries practically everything.”
“Scoring late on? I describe it as heart and mentality. I coached I don’t know, 6 or 7 teams, but I don’t remember any that you lose at home in the last minutes and people keep playing with you. After what we coaches did with the changes, the truth is that the team was totally unbalanced. Okay, we had people who can score, however, the truth is that they could have scored 2-0 and they had that chance. A crazy game that came to us, clearly the 3 points are very important for us.”
“Dybala? He did some beautiful things in the first half. Obviously Paulo is important for us, however I don’t think that what we have seen all these minutes on the field are the truth of his condition. But surprisingly I talked to him now about whether it is better to stay here and not travel for the game in Prague to prepare for the next league game. And he answered me ‘No no, I want to go and I want to play.”
“The league table? I don’t think the problem is being ahead of Lazio, the problem is that it is not normal in the same competition and in the same weekend that so many top teams in the standings lose points. We talked about this in the locker room at halftime. Lazio loses, Atalanta loses, Milan loses, someone between Juve and Fiorentina loses or they draw and they both lose 2 points. It is not normal, usually it is more normal that no one loses points. This weekend this situation happened that we couldn’t waste, these 3 points were really important for us because now we are a little bit closer to all these teams that have goals from the top of the standings.”
“The missed Lukaku penalty? It’s the first one he missed in Italy and the second with me, because he missed one with me when I was at Chelsea. I remember it because it was European Super Cup against Bayern Munich. Only the shooter makes mistakes, though; I am never sad with a player who makes a mistake.
“The decision not to let Paulo take it is because he didn’t feel like hitting the ball from a standstill. His ligament suffers a bit with the power of kicking the stationary ball. No corner kicks, no direct free kicks and no penalties. That’s why I had Romelu shoot, who is a player we put a lot of trust in. Yesterday in training he did very very well. The problem is that Romelu is an ultra-emotional boy, I know him better than anyone because I coached him in three different teams. He is a very sensitive and emotional boy, so when he misses a penalty in the first minutes afterwards his heart cries, his soul cries and he suffers. For that there to have the chance in the last minute to score the winning goal for me could not have been better. Because it was the victory of the team and also Romelu can sleep a little better and wake up with a smile, because he is really a guy with a big heart.”