Mourinho's milestone will be remembered forever as Roma boss celebrates last-gasp winner with fans

By Sports Desk September 12, 2021

Jose Mourinho said he will remember Roma's last-gasp victory over Sassuolo after celebrating his 1,000th career match in wild fashion.

Mourinho's milestone game ended in the Roma head coach sprinting down the touchline to celebrate Stephan El Shaarawy's 91st-minute winner with the Giallorossi fans in Sunday's 2-1 dramatic success at home to Sassuolo.

Former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham boss Mourinho has won 638 of his career matches across all competitions, boasting a 64 per cent winning percentage, to go with 25 titles as a manager.

After Mourinho oversaw Roma's third win from three Serie A fixtures to start the season atop the table, the 58-year-old revelled in the memorable fixture.

"Because during the week I was lying to people, telling everyone this wasn't a special game – perhaps I was trying to convince myself as well," Mourinho, who is in his first season with Roma, said.

"But actually it was – this game had a really special meaning for me. And I am sure I will remember it for the rest of my life, because my 1000th game as a coach was this one.

"I didn't want to lose it, and I was very scared of having that be my lasting memory of the moment. So I was lying to everyone beforehand. It was a very special feeling."

Mourinho – a Champions League, Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A and Primeira Liga winner among other honours – added: "Today it could have finished 6-6 or 7-7, they could have won 2-1, whatever. In the final few minutes Rui Patricio made two or three incredible saves and we missed two or three chances when the goal was gaping. It was an incredible game for the neutral, an absolutely extraordinary match, with so many emotions to it.

"Today I wasn't 58 years old, but 10 or 12 or 14, when you start dreaming about a career in football. Running like I did [down the sideline], I was running like a child. And I apologised to [Sassuolo coach Alessio] Dionisi for that.

"I congratulated him and his players: they played brilliantly. Tonight we won, but if they had won I would not have been able to have any complaints."

It is the first time in Mourinho's illustrious career that he has won the first five games at a club.

"I didn't know that," Mourinho replied when it was put to him. "It's the same as the milestone of 1000 games – I only realised when I was eight or seven short. They are not numbers I'm particularly interested in.

"Obviously I'm happy with the three points, and the great spirit we showed. But we cannot ignore Dionisi and how he must feel: He's a great coach, Sassuolo have a real identity about them – one that comes from De Zerbi, but he has applied his own elements to that. They are a great squad; I realised that as soon as I started studying them.

"These are three massive points for us. Perhaps God decided that I didn't deserve to have a negative memory of this particular game."

Roma, meanwhile, have won six consecutive home games in all competitions for their first time since December 2017 (seven).

Related items

  • Barcelona place Sergi Barjuan in temporary charge following Koeman sacking Barcelona place Sergi Barjuan in temporary charge following Koeman sacking

    Barcelona have named Sergi Barjuan as their interim head coach while they search for a permanent successor to Ronald Koeman.

    The Catalan giants sacked Koeman on Wednesday following a 1-0 loss at Rayo Vallecano that leaves them ninth in LaLiga with 10 matches played.

    Koeman lasted just 14 months in the job after replacing Quique Setien in August 2020 and departs Camp Nou with a 58.21 win percentage across his 67 games in charge.

    Widespread reports from Spain suggest legendary Barcelona midfielder Xavi, who is in charge of Qatari side Al Sadd, is being lined up to replace the former Netherlands boss as early as next week.

    Talks between the two parties are said to be ongoing, but Barca have moved to place Sergi in charge for the time being.

    The former left-back, who has spent the past four months at the helm of Barcelona's B side, will be introduced to the first-team squad ahead of Thursday's training session.

    He has also previously managed Zhejiang Greentown, Real Mallorca, Almeria and Recreativo following a 15-year playing career that saw him spend nine seasons at Camp Nou.

    The LaLiga side confirmed the news on their official website, with Sergi set to speak to the media for the first time on Friday ahead of this weekend's visit of Deportivo Alaves.

    Barca then have a crucial Champions League trip to Dynamo Kiev before travelling to Celta Vigo in their final league game before the international break.

  • Cards stacked against Green Bay as Packers aim to end Arizona hoodoo Cards stacked against Green Bay as Packers aim to end Arizona hoodoo

    Seven weeks of hard evidence suggest that the Green Bay Packers' Thursday Night Football clash with the Arizona Cardinals should be one of the games of the year.

    The 6-1 Packers travel to face the 7-0 Cardinals for a meeting of two teams to have emerged as clear frontrunners for the top seed in the NFC playoffs and who boast a combined winning percentage of 92.9.

    That is the best combined winning percentage for a game in Week 8 or later played on a Thursday since the 11-0 Chicago Bears played at the 10-1 Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, 1934. 

    Yet recent history and misfortune on the side of the Packers may see what many hoped would be a fascinating spectacle fail to live up to its billing.

    Including the playoffs, the Cardinals have won each of their last three games against Green Bay, and the contrast in the talent the two offenses will have available means the most likely outcome is that streak continuing in the desert.

     

    Packers lacking firepower

    The Packers are set to be without their top offensive weapon on Thursday after Davante Adams was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    Adams needed to provide two negative tests, 24 hours apart, and be asymptomatic for 48 hours to be permitted to play against Arizona. He has reportedly not travelled with Green Bay and is not expected to play, leaving the Packers minus arguably the most complete receiver in the NFL, one who is maintaining the remarkable All-Pro standard he produced last season.

    Adams is third in the NFL in receiving yards with 744. He has registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on 65.8 per cent of his targets. That is not too far above the average of 60.9 per cent, however, Adams leads receivers with at least 25 targets in burn yards per route with 5.1.

    In other words, when Adams does win his matchup, he makes the most of it and creates significant separation, reflecting his reputation as one of the NFL's elite route-runners.

    His absence will leave a massive void, one that will be more apparent because of the loss of the lead candidate to fill it.

    Allen Lazard was placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday as a close contact of a person to have tested positive.

    Unvaccinated, Lazard is out for five days, robbing the Packers of a receiver with a 71.4 burn percentage who has produced a big play on 44.3 per cent of his targets.

    Without Adams and Lazard, the Packers are light on receiving threats to legitimately scare a Cardinals defense ranked second in yards per pass play allowed.

    Running back Aaron Jones is Green Bay's second most prolific pass-catcher behind Davante Adams with 26 receptions. He may need to take on more of the receiving workload this week, though the Packers are hoping Marquez Valdes-Scantling can return from a hamstring injury and provide a spark with his downfield speed.

    However, Valdes-Scantling's burn percentage of 43.8 from 16 targets so far this season indicates he may find it tough to lift a depleted group. Yet, regardless of whether it comes from Valdes-Scantling, Jones or tight ends Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay will likely require a significant contribution from an unlikely source to keep pace with a passing attack that is loaded by comparison.

    Deck stacked for MVP contender Murray

    Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is firmly in the MVP race and, while that is in large part down to his own remarkable accuracy – 83.3 per cent of his attempts have been well thrown, the best ratio among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts – and playmaking ability, a lot of credit has to be attributed to the stellar performances of several receivers.

    Three-time first-team All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins has unsurprisingly hit the ground running in 2021, posting a burn percentage of 80, the highest ratio among receivers with a minimum of 25 targets, and producing a big play on 45.7 per cent of his targets.

    Christian Kirk, with a burn percentage of 75 and a big play rate of 38.8 per cent, is not far behind while veteran A.J. Green (35.6 per cent big play rate) has been unexpectedly rejuvenated after trading Cincinnati for Arizona.

    The X-factor, however, is rookie Rondale Moore, whose speed out of the backfield has added another dimension to Kliff Kingsbury's offense.

    Moore's average depth of target is just 2.3 yards, the lowest in the NFL (min. 10 targets), yet Moore is averaging 3.3 burn yards per route, above the average of 2.5, illustrating his effectiveness in the quick game with his ability to beat defenders with both speed and elusiveness.

    His presence has allowed Kingsbury to get more creative in the deployment of his offensive personnel, using the threat of Murray and Moore as runners to his significant advantage.

    That particular string is not one the Packers have in their bow and, despite an impressive performance against the Washington Football Team in Week 7, their defense appears ill-equipped to deal with an offense that also saw tight end Zach Ertz score on his debut last week.

    No case for Green Bay’s defense

    The numbers for the Packers on the defensive side of the ball are impressive in terms of limiting the efficiency of their opponents.

    Indeed, Green Bay's defense is 10th in the NFL in opponent yards per play allowed (5.38), while the Packers have given up only 19 plays of 20 yards or more, the third-fewest in the league.

    But the Packers' defensive absences are such that it will be a tough ask for them to slow down a potent Cardinals attack.

    Jaire Alexander remains out with a shoulder injury, leaving the Packers bereft of his versatility to play as a starting outside corner and at the 'star' position on the inside.

    Rookie Eric Stokes has not been a liability in coverage, however, he is allowing 2.04 burn yards per snap (the league average for corners is 2.01) and, minus Alexander's services, the Packers do not have a cornerback capable of consistently locking down his opposing receiver.

    Only six interior defensive linemen have defeated a blocker on a pressure more often than Kenny Clark (22), but the Packers' defensive tackle is lacking support off the edge, with Za'Darius Smith a long-term absentee following back surgery and Preston Smith questionable for Thursday due to an oblique issue.

    Of quarterbacks with 25 attempts under pressure, Murray's well-thrown percentage in those scenarios of 81 is second only to Mac Jones (81.2).

    The Packers do not have the resources up front to make his performance under duress drastically worse nor do they have the resources in the defensive backfield to keep all the Cardinals' weapons under wraps.

    With their own offensive arsenal severely reduced, it may take a vintage Rodgers performance of the highest order for the Packers to avoid enduring another frightful experience in Arizona.

  • Koeman sacked by Barcelona: Messi's departure, Clasico woes and a Copa triumph – the highs and lows Koeman sacked by Barcelona: Messi's departure, Clasico woes and a Copa triumph – the highs and lows

    Ronald Koeman's 14-month spell in charge of Barcelona came to an end on Wednesday following another humbling defeat.

    Barca fell 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano, fresh on the back of losing to fierce rivals Real Madrid, and find themselves ninth in LaLiga with 10 games played. 

    The Dutchman departs Camp Nou with a win percentage of 58.21 across a 67-game tenure that provided more negatives than positives.

    Here, Stats Perform picks out a few of the highs and lows from Koeman's reign, which coincided with the most difficult off-field period in the club's history.

    MESSI'S DEPARTURE

    When looking backing on Koeman's time at Barcelona in years to come, it will be best remembered as the period in which the Blaugrana were having to adapt to life without all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi.

    Years of financial mismanagement predating Koeman's arrival in August 2020 meant Barca were unable to tie Messi down to a new deal and he left for Paris Saint-Germain shortly before the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

    Sergio Aguero arrived but it was always going to take considerable time to replace a player that had scored 672 goals and provided 265 assists across 778 games. So it proved, with Barca's goalscoring problems laid bare this term.

    CLASSICO WOES

    While the loss to Rayo proved to be the final straw for Koeman, there had been growing talk that he would be on his way out regardless following Sunday's 2-1 Clasico defeat to Madrid.

    Barca simply failed to turn up against their biggest rivals – and not for the first time given it was their fourth successive loss to Madrid in all competitions, making it their worst such run in the fixture since 1965.

    Koeman is only the second manager in LaLiga history to lose his first three Clasicos, after Patrick O'Connell between 1935 and 1940, and that latest loss was not taken well by Barca supporters. The former Netherlands boss had his car mobbed by a crowd of disgruntled fans as he attempted to depart Camp Nou.

    EUROPEAN HUMBLINGS

    Barca's on-field struggles were not limited to LaLiga, either, as they made a historically bad start to this season's Champions League campaign with 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica.

    Never before had they lost their opening two games in the competition and, while they did just about recover with a 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev last time out, whoever succeeds Koeman still has plenty of work on their hands to advance from the group.

    Indeed, before that win over Dynamo, Barca had lost four and drawn one of their last five games in the Champions League, having also lost to Juventus in the final game of their group campaign last term before losing to PSG over two legs in the last 16.

    COPA TRIUMPH EASES PAIN 

    Exiting the Champions League in the first knockout round last season was one of a number of disappointments for Barca in their only full season under Koeman.

    Barca finished the LaLiga season in third, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid, and also lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana in dramatic circumstances.

    But Koeman did win one trophy at Camp Nou thanks to success in the 2020-21 Copa del Rey. After overturning a two-goal first-leg deficit against Sevilla in the semi-finals, Barca exacted revenge on Bilbao in the final with a 4-0 win.

    That made ex-Valencia head coach Koeman the second manager after Luis Enrique to win his first two Copa del Rey finals this century.

     

    A NEW DAWN

    Koeman will rightly point out that he had to operate with one hand tied behind his back due to Barca's financial difficulties, with Antoine Griezmann following Messi out of the door in the most recent transfer window.

    Barcelona's squad became substantially weaker as a result, though it did at least present a chance to bring in some new blood. Koeman has brought the average age of the side down to 25.5, ranking Barca as the third-youngest team in LaLiga this season.

    Ansu Fati's development may have been stunted by knee injury issues, which again kept him out of the Rayo loss, but the club's new number 10 has been given a firm footing to potentially succeed all-time great Messi as the face of Barca going forward.

    Pedri and Gavi have also made a big impact under Koeman, the latter overtaking his team-mate to become the youngest player to start an El Clasico this century last weekend at the age of 17 years and 80 days. 

    It will be those players, and not Koeman, who will attempt to return the club to former glories.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.