Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has sparked the build-up for Sunday's Derby della Capitale remarking Lazio were "smoking cigarettes" while his side progressed in the Conference League on Thursday.

The Giallorossi edged past Dutch outfit Vitesse after Tammy Abraham's 90th-minute goal earned a 1-1 draw and 2-1 aggregate victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

Mourinho said Roma would quickly switch their attention to Sunday's derby with his side in seventh, one point behind Maurizio Sarri's Lazio in fifth in Serie A.

"Obviously, I am not happy that we played today with many players who will also have to be there on Sunday while tonight Lazio are home smoking cigarettes with Sarri, but it’s because Vitesse are really good," Mourinho told reporters after the game.

Mourinho fielded a strong Roma outfit against Vitesse and given the situation of the tie, with Maximilian Wittek's 62nd-minute goal levelling it on aggregate, he was unable to rest any key players with a quick turnaround for Sunday's derby.

"Now Sarri is at home smoking his cigarette while I go home trying to think how we can recover from this for Sunday," Mourinho said.

He added: "We never came into this to control the result or aim for a draw to get us through. We worked with one objective, preparing to go for victory.

"It was a bad performance on a technical level, it might seem tactical, but it was technical. We defended well and showed character, but we also pushed hard at the end with El Shaarawy as a third striker, not a wing-back.

"I don’t want to say we 100 per cent deserved to go through, but over the two legs did a little more."

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has sparked the build-up for Sunday's Derby della Capitale remarking Lazio are off "smoking cigarettes" while his side progressed in the Conference League on Thursday.

The Giallorossi edged past Dutch outfit Vitesse after Tammy Abraham's 90th-minute goal earned a 1-1 draw and 2-1 aggregate victory.

Mourinho said Roma would quickly switch their attention to Sunday's derby with his side in seventh, one point behind Maurizio Sarri's Lazio in fifth.

"Obviously, I am not happy that we played today with many players who will also have to be there on Sunday while tonight Lazio are home smoking cigarettes with Sarri, but it’s because Vitesse are really good," Mourinho told reporters after the game.

Mourinho fielded a strong Roma outfit against Vitesse and given the situation of the tie, with Maximilian Wittek's 62nd-minute goal levelling it on aggregate, he was unable to rest any key players with a quick turnaround for Sunday's derby.

"Now Sarri is at home smoking his cigarette while I go home trying to think how we can recover from this for Sunday," Mourinho said.

He added: "We never came into this to control the result or aim for a draw to get us through. We worked with one objective, preparing to go for victory.

"It was a bad performance on a technical level, it might seem tactical, but it was technical. We defended well and showed character, but we also pushed hard at the end with El Shaarawy as a third striker, not a wing-back.

"I don’t want to say we 100 per cent deserved to go through, but over the two legs did a little more."

Antonio Conte suggested Tottenham will take UEFA to court over the governing body's "unfair" decision that consequently eliminated his side from the Europa Conference League.  

Spurs' final group match against Rennes on December 9 was called off late on following a coronavirus outbreak at the Premier League club that saw five staff members and eight players test positive.

With a new date unable to be set for their European encounter, UEFA ruled that Spurs had forfeited the game and awarded Rennes a 3-0 victory, therefore eliminating Conte's side from the competition.

However, Conte does not agree with UEFA's decision to award Rennes the win and claimed the outcome may even have been influenced by "personal interest".

"For sure this is an incredible decision," he said at a news conference previewing Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final with West Ham. "This decision is not fair. All the world knows we were facing a big problem like COVID. 

"We didn't play through our fault but because we had many, many players with COVID and the government decided to stop our training sessions and to [shut] our training centre.

"Honestly for me, the players, the club and our fans, it's incredible the decision UEFA wanted to take. It's unfair for sure.

"We deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. I'm very disappointed for UEFA's decision.

"I hope that in the future, in the next step, something can change because we deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. It's not our fault.

"UEFA took this decision but then there's another step to confirm or not this incredible decision. But I repeat I'm very disappointed with UEFA because everybody knows the problem. 

"It means maybe someone doesn't know the problem we were having and maybe [there was] some personal interest [behind the decision]."

UEFA rules state a team cannot call off a match if they have 13 players from their A list, including a goalkeeper, available to play.

Asked to clarify if the "next step" means taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Conte added: "Yeah. UEFA took this decision but there's another step and we're confident that there's another step.

"I repeat, it was incredible what UEFA did. Also, in explanation about this defeat, I have read that Tottenham couldn't play [a rearranged] game because of COVID cases. I dispute this. But [UEFA] took this decision.

"We are very, very confident for the next step and I repeat we deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in the court. I can't accept this. We are very, very disappointed with UEFA for this."

Rennes finished top of Group G and are through to the last 16 of UEFA's third-tier European competition, while Vitesse – who finished three points ahead of Tottenham – are scheduled to face Rapid Vienna in the play-off round.

Antonio Conte suggested Tottenham will take UEFA to court over the governing body's "unfair" decision that consequently eliminated his side from the Europa Conference League.  

Spurs' final group match against Rennes on December 9 was called off late on following a coronavirus outbreak at the Premier League club that saw five staff members and eight players test positive.

With a new date unable to be set for their European encounter, UEFA ruled that Spurs had forfeited the game and awarded Rennes a 3-0 victory, therefore eliminating Conte's side from the competition.

However, Conte does not agree with UEFA's decision to award Rennes the win and claimed the outcome may even have been influenced by "personal interest".

"For sure this is an incredible decision," he said at a news conference previewing Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final with West Ham. "This decision is not fair. All the world knows we were facing a big problem like COVID. 

"We didn't play through our fault but because we had many, many players with COVID and the government decided to stop our training sessions and to [shut] our training centre.

"Honestly for me, the players, the club and our fans, it's incredible the decision UEFA wanted to take. It's unfair for sure.

"We deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. I'm very disappointed for UEFA's decision.

"I hope that in the future, in the next step, something can change because we deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in this way. It's not our fault.

"UEFA took this decision but then there's another step to confirm or not this incredible decision. But I repeat I'm very disappointed with UEFA because everybody knows the problem. 

"It means maybe someone doesn't know the problem we were having and maybe [there was] some personal interest [behind the decision]."

UEFA rules state a team cannot call off a match if they have 13 players from their A list, including a goalkeeper, available to play.

Asked to clarify if the "next step" means taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Conte added: "Yeah. UEFA took this decision but there's another step and we're confident that there's another step.

"I repeat, it was incredible what UEFA did. Also, in explanation about this defeat, I have read that Tottenham couldn't play [a rearranged] game because of COVID cases. I dispute this. But [UEFA] took this decision.

"We are very, very confident for the next step and I repeat we deserve to play for qualification on the pitch, not in the court. I can't accept this. We are very, very disappointed with UEFA for this."

Rennes finished top of Group G and are through to the last 16 of UEFA's third-tier European competition, while Vitesse – who finished three points ahead of Tottenham – are scheduled to face Rapid Vienna in the play-off round.

Tottenham could face Rapid Vienna in the Europa Conference League knockout round play-off with the result of their postponed final group match with Rennes still to be decided.

Spurs' Group G finale, which was due to take place last Thursday, was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak at the club.

They sit third in the group behind Dutch club Vitesse and it is UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body that will decide which team progresses after the governing body ruled the match with Rennes would not be rescheduled after failing to find a pre-December 31 date that works for both sides.

Vitesse will progress to face the Austrian club if the game is ruled a Rennes win or a draw.

Meanwhile, Tottenham's Premier League rivals Leicester City, who crashed out of the Europa League, were pitted against Randers of Denmark.

Celtic suffered the same fate as the Foxes and the Glasgow giants will take on Bodo/Glimt for a place in the last 16.

They are not the only former European champions in the draw, with Ligue 1 side Marseille drawn against Qarabag and PSV set to face Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

The first legs will take place on February 17 and the return legs a week later.

Conference League knockout round play-off draw in full:

Marseille v Qarabag
PSV v Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Fenerbahce v Slavia Prague
Midtjylland v PAOK
Leicester City v Randers
Celtic v Bodo/Glimt
Sparta Prague v Partizan Belgrade
Rapid Vienna v Vitesse or Tottenham

Antonio Conte preached patience after his Tottenham tenure started with a "crazy game" against Vitesse in the Europa Conference League. 

Spurs emerged as 3-2 winners at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday, but they made things difficult for themselves after racing into a three-goal lead through Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and an own goal from Jacob Rasmussen inside the opening half hour. 

Son's opener meant the South Korea international has scored Tottenham's first goal under each of their three most recent permanent bosses. 

Rasmussen made amends for his error before Matus Bero reduced the deficit further seven minutes later, with Cristian Romero's dismissal putting the hosts under pressure with half an hour left to play.

Vitesse were unable to complete the comeback, though, with red cards for Danilho Doekhi and goalkeeper Markus Schubert in the closing stages bringing an end to their hopes. 

Conte picked a strong team for the game – he made just one change to the XI picked by his predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo against Manchester United at the weekend – handing Son and Harry Kane their first starts in the competition. 

But with Spurs back in action at Everton in the Premier League on Sunday and the international break coming immediately after, Conte warned it will take time for him to stamp his mark on the team.

"It was a crazy game. Usually I don't like this type of game – a crazy game means anything can happen. But at the same time, I think we should win and we won," Conte told BT Sport. 

"We were winning 3-0 then conceded two goals we can avoid. After the red card we were in trouble. To win while suffering is good for this team, these players. 

"They needed to improve their confidence. They needed to work a lot. The problem is we have to find the time to work. We have two days until the next game, then it's the international break. 

"For sure, we have to improve. It's not easy because in two days we prepared for this [Vitesse] game, now we have only one day. Tomorrow it's impossible to work with the players who played tonight. They used a lot of energy. Tomorrow they have to rest and we'll work with the players who didn't play. 

"We need to have a bit of patience because we need to work on many aspects – tactically and physically. I'm not afraid about the work. I know only through the work you can reach important targets." 

It was just the second time in a major European competition that a game has seen five goals and three red cards, after Braga's 4-1 success against Fenerbahce in the Europa League in 2016. 

Antonio Conte's Tottenham tenure got off to a winning start as Spurs held on for a 3-2 victory against Vitesse in an action-packed Europa Conference League game that saw three red cards.

Life after Nuno Espirito Santo began brilliantly for Spurs, with Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and an own goal from Jacob Rasmussen giving them a firm grip on the game after just 28 minutes. 

However, Rasmussen atoned for his error and Matus Bero brought Vitesse – who won the reverse fixture 1-0 – back to within a goal of restoring parity before half-time, with a previously jubilant Tottenham Hotspur Stadium falling flat. 

Romero's second booking with 30 minutes remaining increased the pressure on Conte's men, but Danilo Doekhi and Markus Schubert also received their marching orders in the final 10 minutes as Vitesse missed a chance to complete a historic comeback.

Ben Davies was perhaps fortunate not to concede a third-minute penalty for a clumsy tackle on Nikolai Frederiksen and Spurs took advantage of that reprieve, Son scoring on the follow-up after Schubert failed to hang onto an effort from Lucas.

Son rattled the upright but Tottenham soon stormed clear as Lucas added a cool finish to Harry Kane's throughball and Rasmussen scored an own goal while attempting to stop Kane steering Davies' mishit shot home. 

Hugo Lloris did brilliantly to tip Sondre Tronstad's long-range shot over the crossbar, but Rasmussen headed home from the resulting corner and Bero punished a mistake from Lucas to curb the enthusiasm that was building in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

The pace of the game was far slower after the restart and Spurs were reduced to 10 men when Romero received a second yellow card for pulling down Lois Openda. 

Vitesse's hopes of completing the comeback and causing an upset evaporated in the closing stages, though, as Doekhi committed a second bookable offence and Schubert got a straight red for handling outside his area.
 

What does it mean? Something to build on 

Conceding two goals in seven first-half minutes will not have pleased Conte, but the way his team stoically made sure of the win in difficult circumstances will have.

With their next five Premier League games coming against teams that currently sit below them in the table, the new coach has a great chance to quickly turn their fortunes around. 

They also sit second in Group G and could qualify by winning their next game against Mura if other results go their way.

Teacher's pet 

After going close in the second minute, it did not take much longer for Son to get Tottenham off the mark under Conte. He has now scored Spurs' first goal under each of their past three permanent head coaches. 

Problems at the back 

Romero picked up two bookings for tackles he really did not need to make, while Eric Dier's marking of Rasmussen was questionable on Vitesse's first goal and Davies was lucky not to concede an early penalty. Conte's three-man defence looked anything but solid. 

What's next? 

Conte's Premier League return will be made at Everton on Sunday, when Vitesse host Utrecht in the Eredivisie. 

Nuno Espirito Santo insisted his focus was on improving Tottenham's young players after his side suffered a 1-0 defeat at Vitesse in the Europa Conference League.

Maximilian Wittek's second-half strike was enough to see Thomas Letsch's dominant outfit past a sorry Spurs, who have won just two of their last eight away games in Europe.

The midfielder's left-footed half-volley also ended Tottenham's five-game unbeaten run in the Netherlands in the 21st century, while they remain winless in 2021-22 on the road across three games in European competition.

Head coach Nuno, who opted to rest Son Heung-min and Harry Kane for the trip to Arnhem, refused to lament his side's performance as he pointed towards a busy schedule requiring rotation of his squad.

"It was a tough match. I think we competed well. In terms of attack, I think we should finish the actions better. Some combinations were missing," the Spurs boss said.

"I knew that the game was going to be tough. I am not here to judge the players, I am here to try and improve them. The analysis and the judgement we do it behind closed doors, like you can understand."

Rennes sit top of Group G, five points clear of Spurs at the halfway point, while Vitesse sit in second on six points.

However, Nuno appeared calm as he suggested his team can bounce back with their next three games in the competition as they look to make the knockout stages.

"I think we have two games at home against Vitesse and Rennes, and then we have to play Mura. We can solve the situation of the group," Nuno said, before defending teenage forward Dane Scarlett who struggled against a three-man defence.

"Dane is 17 years old. It is tough for him, but many of our players who are under 17 are not involved in first-team football," Nuno said. "Experience comes when he competes against top professionals like he did against Vitesse today."

Maximilian Wittek's second-half strike condemned an insipid Tottenham to a 1-0 loss against Vitesse in the Europa Conference League.

Spurs had won just two of their last seven away games in European competition before Thursday and their struggles on the road showed in a timid opening 45-minute showing.

However, the visitors were unfortunate to not go ahead after the interval at the GelreDome as Bryan Gil rifled onto the woodwork in an otherwise uneventful first hour of football.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side, who rested Harry Kane entirely for the trip to Holland, were eventually made to pay for their lacklustre performance when Wittek drilled in from the edge of the area to end Spurs' unbeaten start in the competition and leave them third in Group G.

Pierluigi Gollini smothered the first chance of the game as he raced out to deny Nikolai Baden Frederiksen before Jacob Rasmussen flicked narrowly wide following Wittek's corner.

Nuno's side could not manage a shot on target in the first half but went in level at the break after Thomas Letsch's team failed to make the most of their control of proceedings.

Spurs duly returned after the interval with greater attacking impetus, Bryan rattling the crossbar with a left-footed curler just two minutes into the second half.

Eli Dasa then drove narrowly wide of the right-hand post before forcing another save from Gollini as Vitesse piled on the pressure just past the hour mark in a contest of limited opportunities.

The hosts had scored in each of their last eight games and made it nine when Wittek rifled a left-footed half-volley - via a deflection off Davinson Sanchez - into the bottom-right corner with 13 minutes remaining.

Spurs pressed on for a late equaliser that did not come, meaning their five-game unbeaten run in the Netherlands in the 21st century came to an end.

A section of a stand at Eredivisie side NEC Nijmegen's stadium, the Goffertstadion, collapsed as Vitesse fans celebrated their side's 1-0 win, but there were no injuries.

Nikolai Baden Frederiksen's 16th-minute goal separated the two rivals at the final whistle and the Vitesse players went over to celebrate with their travelling supporters, who were jumping in unison when the stand gave way beneath them.

However, no fans appeared to be hurt in the incident and, after a brief pause, the festivities resumed as the away fans enjoyed their side's positive result.

Nijmegen Mayor Hubert Bruls demanded an inquiry into why the stand collapsed, but said he was relieved that there were no casualties.

“I am very shocked by what happened," Bruls told De Telegraaf. "Fortunately, as far as is known, no one was injured. I want an investigation into what happened here as soon as possible.”

A Vitesse fan present at the game explained that, despite the shock of the event, the mood among the supporters remained positive and reassured that no injuries were sustained.

“Everyone is now back on the bus, fortunately without injuries," Vitesse fan Danny said to Omroep Gelderland. "But it was a shock. The atmosphere is no less. Everyone is safe on the way back home. We won and that's the most important thing."

Just over two years ago, there was a similar incident as the roof of AZ's home ground - the AFAS Stadion - collapsed during a heavy storm, but nobody was present at the stadium at the time.

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

Didier Drogba has a target on his back as Chelsea youngster Armando Broja seeks to surpass his celebrated achievements.

Broja is enjoying a productive loan spell at Vitesse in the Eredivisie, with nine goals in 20 league outings making him the top-scoring teenager in Europe's top 10 leagues - the top flights in the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Belgium and Greece in addition to the established big five under UEFA's country coefficients.

The 19-year-old made his Chelsea debut last March, coming off the bench in a 4-0 win over Everton.

He hopes it will prove to be the start of a memorable career at Stamford Bridge, with hotshot Drogba the man he is aiming to eclipse.

"Nine goals and two assists is good but I am never satisfied," the Albania international told Goal. "I want to get more goals and assists to keep tallying them up.

"I have played over 1,000 minutes and I have 11 goal contributions. It is not bad but I want more goals and assists. I want to do more."

Broja explained how seeing the likes of Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard as he was coming up through the youth system at Chelsea provided inspiration.

And it is the Ivorian forward whose footsteps he wants to follow, with Drogba having scored 104 Premier League goals for the club, putting him second behind Lampard (147).

He said: "I was like: 'Wow! That's Frank Lampard, Drogba or John Terry right in front of me' when I would see them around.

"I loved to take pictures with them because I wanted to be them. I wanted to be in their shoes at the top level.

"Now I am approaching the age they were when they were playing, I want to try and surpass Drogba. It might not be easy, but that's my mentality and how I am feeling."

Broja's next chance to impress is in Tuesday's KNVB Beker semi-final against VVV-Venlo and, should he help his side into the final, he will doubtless want to emulate Drogba's exploits in showpiece matches.

Drogba scored nine goals in 10 finals for Chelsea, while in 2007 he became the first player to net the decisive effort in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals in the same season.

The powerful forward also made his presence felt on the European stage, scoring a club-record 36 Champions League goal to underline the scale of the challenge Broja has set himself.

After nine and a half years, three first-team appearances and loan spells at seven different clubs, Lucas Piazon's time at Chelsea has finally come to an end.

Piazon, 26, on Thursday put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year contract with Primeira Liga side Braga, whose coach Carlos Carvalhal he played under at Rio Ave last season.

His name has been linked to Chelsea for so long, since signing as a promising 17-year-old in 2011, but few fans could tell you what he has done during his career.

With the help of Opta data, we look back at Piazon's loan spells to analyse an unusual career that finally appears set for some normality.

MALAGA

Piazon's first loan switch saw him head to Malaga in January 2013 and he began well, setting up two goals across his first three starts. However, he only started one more game and did not register another goal involvement.

VITESSE

Things ramped up a few gears the next season at Vitesse, where Piazon found the back of the net 11 times in his first 1,331 minutes for Vitesse. He scored or assisted a goal every 73 minutes before the mid-season break but did not have a single goal involvement in 727 minutes across the second half of the season as they slipped from second – level on points with leaders Ajax – to a sixth-place finish.

EINTRACHT FRANKFURT

Piazon spent the 2014-15 season with Frankfurt and only scored twice, though one was an incredible free-kick winner against Hamburg, across 22 appearances and 11 starts in the Bundesliga. However, he created 1.7 chances per 90 minutes in Germany's top flight, second only to Takashi Inui (2.3) among Frankfurt players.

READING

A return to England followed and the first of three years in the Championship. Piazon had three goals and two assists in 23 league appearances for Reading. Among players to feature for the club at least 10 times, he ranked second for passing accuracy (84.3 per cent) and fifth for chances created per 90 (1.9).

FULHAM

Piazon spent the next two seasons down the road from Stamford Bridge at Craven Cottage. In his first season with Fulham he had 2.2 chances created per 90 minutes, behind only Tom Cairney (2.7) and Stefan Johansen (2.3) among players to feature at least 10 times.

In 2017-18 he scored five goals and four assists as the Cottagers secured promotion to the top flight. His 18 goal involvements (10 goals, eight assists) across his two seasons with Fulham was the fifth most for the club during that time frame.

CHIEVO

A first venture in Serie A followed in the second half of 2018-19, but Piazon only played 81 minutes across four appearances for Chievo. He created one chance and hit the target with his only shot.

RIO AVE

Piazon became an important squad player during an 18-month loan at Rio Ave, contributing two goals and an assist as they qualified for the preliminary stages of the Europa League by finishing fifth in the 2019-20 Primeira Liga. His two goals from seven shots (including blocks) in the top flight this season gave him a team-high conversion rate of 28.57. Among Primeira Liga players to have taken at least as many shots as Piazon this season, only five have a better conversion rate.

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