Mourinho taunts fired Lazio up for derby success, says Romagnoli

By Sports Desk March 19, 2023

Jose Mourinho's taunts about Lazio's European shortcomings fired up the Biancocelesti ahead of Sunday's derby win over Roma, said defender Alessio Romagnoli.

Mattia Zaccagni scored the only goal of a bad-tempered meeting between Italy's capital clubs, with Roma reduced to 10 men after Roger Ibanez picked up two bookings within the first 32 minutes.

Tempers also flared at full-time as Bryan Cristante and Adam Marusic were shown red cards, while the win moved Lazio five points clear of Roma in the battle for a top-four Serie A finish.

Ahead of the game, Mourinho mocked Lazio's Europa Conference League exit against AZ Alkmaar during a rant about teams dropping into lower-level European competitions, saying: "They won't have a third competition to play in."

Speaking after Lazio completed their first Serie A double over Roma since 2011-12, former Giallorossi man Romagnoli could not resist aiming a jibe back at Mourinho.

"We were already very energised before this match, his quotes hyped us up even more," he said. "There won't be a third derby for them."

The result makes Mourinho – who served his final game of a two-match touchline ban – the first Roma boss to lose consecutive Serie A meetings with Lazio since Luis Enrique in 2011 and 2012.

Mourinho's opposite number Maurizio Sarri was less confrontational, telling reporters: "Let Mourinho do it, he's like that.

"I often like him. There is nothing for him to answer. We won the derby, we are very happy, and we don't want to cause controversy.

"The red card helped us, but the data shows we had the game in hand before that. I've played in all the most important stadiums in the world and I've always slept the night before, yesterday I struggled.

"It's a unique emotion, I'm happy for the fans. Today the stadium was a spectacle. I'm happy with the points but more for the supporters."

Asked whether Mourinho's absence from the touchline impacted the game, Sarri said: "We [coaches] are more important before the game than during. You find yourself among 70,000 people screaming, and the only one who hears you is the one passing by."

There have been 38 red cards shown in 58 Rome derbies in Serie A's three-points-for-a-win era (since 1994-95) – more than in any other fixture in the competition during that span.

Though the teams share their Stadio Olimpico home, Lazio are now unbeaten in their last six 'home' games against Roma (W4 D2), winning in each of the last six derbies in which Roma have had a player sent off.

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