An own goal from Gianluca Mancini rescued a draw for Leicester in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-final tie against Roma.
Roma’s captain Lorenzo Pellegrini led by example, firing the visitors into a 15th-minute lead with a smart run and finish following a fine reverse pass from Nicolo Zalewski.
It was cruel on Leicester, who had started well and applied heavy pressure on the Roma defence in the opening stages of the match, albeit without creating a clear-cut chance.
Roma’s goalkeeper Rui Patricio was virtually a spectator in the first half, as Leicester struggled to breach a stubborn backline.
Lookman ought to have at least tested the visitors’ shot stopper in the early stages of the second half, but he mistimed his jump and headed Marc Albrighton’s corner delivery over.
However, he was central to Leicester’s equaliser in the 67th-minute when he competed for substitute Harvey Barnes’ cross, outmuscling Mancini as the ball was bundled over the line.
Both sides traded chances in a bid to win the game, Rui Patricio doing well to deny Kelechi Iheanacho from distance and at the other end Sergio Oliveira forced a good save from Kasper Schmeichel.
But they couldn’t be separated and will head to the Stadio Olimpico next Thursday for the second leg with the tie finely balanced.
TALKING POINT – NOT THE WORST RESULT FOR LEICESTER
Leicester were arguably the better side on the night, and on reflection, given their second half dominance, will be slightly disappointed not to be taking a lead into next week’s second leg at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma, in typical Jose Mourinho style, were very efficient, and when they got their noses in front were always going to be difficult to break down.
The Portuguese will be satisfied with the performance, but will be acutely aware his side will have to be more adventurous next Thursday in front of Roma’s 60,000 supporters. That may well play into Leicester’s hands, as they can be dangerous on the break and will be confident of scoring at least once in Rome.
So, while not ideal, this is far from a disaster for Brendan Rodgers’ side as they look to make a first-ever European final.
MAN OF THE MATCH – CHRIS SMALLING (ROMA)
The inclusion of Jamie Vardy, making only his second start of the calendar year, was the talking point ahead of kick-off, but Smalling never gave his compatriot an inch, keeping the 35-year-old extremely quiet. Roma spent a lot of the match camped in their own half and the former Manchester United defender was key to absorbing Leicester’s pressure.
Leicester: Schmeichel 6, Pereira 6, Fofana 7, Evans 7, Castagne N/A, Dewsbury-Hall 7, Tielemans 7, Maddison 7, Albrighton 6, Vardy 5, Lookman 8.. subs: Justin 5, Barnes 7, Iheanacho 6, Perez N/A.
Roma: Patricio 7, Ibanez 6, Smalling 8*, Mancini 6, Karsdorp 7, Mkhitaryan 6, Cristante 6, Pellegrini 7, Zalewski 7, Abraham 7, Zaniolo 6.. subs: Vina N/A, Veretout 5, Oliveira 5, Afena-Gyan N/A.
15′ – GOAL! LEICESTER 0-1 ROMA (LORENZO PELLEGRINI): Roma’s skipper Pellegrini gives the visitors the lead! It’s a brilliantly worked goal, too, as Zalewski drives his side forward with a menacing run before carving inside and picking the run of Pellegrini in behind the Leicester defence with a perfectly-weighted through ball. He makes no mistake, finishing confidently past Schmeichel.
51′ – MUST DO BETTER! Lookman is unmarked and should score as he meets Albrighton’s corner delivery, but he can’t keep it down. He has his head in his hands, he knows that was a huge chance to draw Leicester level.
67′ – GOAL! LEICESTER 1-1 ROMA (ADEMOLA LOOKMAN): An instant impact from Barnes! Embarking on a menacing run down the left flank, he gets a lucky ricochet as he makes his way to the by-line, picking out Lookman who holds off his marker and finishes with aplomb!
79′ – IS AWKWARD FOR RUI PATRICIO! Tielemans wins the ball for Leicester in a dangerous area, Iheanacho takes control as he gets his shot away from 25 yards. The ball takes an awkward bounce in front of Rui Patricio and the Roma goalkeeper does well to push it behind!
81′ – GOOD SAVE! Another reminder of Roma’s threat on the break as Abraham plays in Oliveira who forces a good save from Schmeichel!