UEFA Europa Conference League


Jose Mourinho had words of praise for both Ebrima Darboe and Chris Smalling on Thursday, following Roma's 3-0 win over Zorya Luhansk.

The Giallorossi made it two wins from two in the group stage of the Europa Conference League after a convincing display in Ukraine, as Smalling got on the scoresheet and Darboe - on his first start of the season - provided the assist for Stephan El Shaarawy's early deadlock break.

Here's what the boss had to say about the game...

What are you happiest about this evening?

“The result. At the end of the day, it is the result that matters most. A few days ago we dominated another team, we played against a side that looked small in comparison and we lost. It's the result that matters. Today we won. We have six points in the group now and that’s the most important thing – perhaps we only need five or six more now in order to qualify.

“So it’s a step forward. No injuries, and no extra tiredness either because we’ve managed to rest a couple of players – some because they stayed on the bench and others because they stayed in Rome.”

What did you make of Ebrima Darboe’s performance?

“He played really well. He gave the team balance, he made the right choices on the ball, he generally made smart decisions and he really did a good job of reading the defensive movements. I really liked his performance.

“I wanted to give Amadou Diawara the chance to play a few minutes, and that’s why I chose to take Darboe off, but I was absolutely very satisfied with his performance.”

Could Chris Smalling’s return be an added boost for this group?

“Yes. Since he overcame his injury he has always been ready to go. Even when he’s come off the bench he’s done well. Obviously we knew that, with Gianluca Mancini on the bench, it would create chances for others to play in defence. And he played well, with great communication during the game. And, of course, it’s always great for a defender when they get on the scoresheet too.”

Now you have to focus on Sunday’s game against Empoli…

“Absolutely. After a defeat it’s always important to get back out there and try to win the next one. We managed that today, but now obviously we want to take that form back to Serie A and try to beat a team that already has nine points and is playing very, very well.

“They are a good side. We will get back to Rome between 2am and 3am tonight [Friday morning] and it’ll be better if we stay at Trigoria. It’s a bit of a sacrifice for my players but it’s better for us: we can train in the morning and then they can return home.”

(Photo LaPresse)