Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Roma, the Serie A club have announced.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss, who led Roma to the Europa League final last season after winning the Europa Conference League the campaign before, will leave them “with immediate effect”.

Roma, who have won only one of their last five Serie A matches to slip to ninth in the table, said on their official website: “AS Roma can confirm that Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff will leave the club with immediate effect.”

Club owners Dan and Ryan Friedkin added: “We would like to thank Jose on behalf of all of us at AS Roma for his passion and efforts since his arrival at the club.

“We will always have great memories of his tenure at Roma, but we believe that an immediate change is in the best interests of the club.

“We wish Jose and his assistants all the best in their future endeavours.”

Mourinho replaced Paulo Fonseca as Roma’s head coach in May 2021 and guided them to a sixth-placed finish and the Conference League title in his first season.

Roma finished in sixth place in Serie A again last term and reached the Europa League final in Budapest, where they lost 4-1 on penalties to Sevilla after a 1-1 draw.

Mourinho won three Premier League titles, the FA Cup and three League Cups during two spells in charge of Chelsea after winning the Champions League with Porto.

The 60-year-old also won the Champions League as manager of Inter Milan, claimed the LaLiga title with Real Madrid, triumphed in the Europa League with Manchester United and took over at Roma after his departure from Tottenham.

Juventus moved to within two points of Serie A leaders Inter Milan thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Roma.

Adrien Rabiot scored the only goal of the game early in the second half as Massimiliano Allegri’s side took advantage of Inter’s draw at Genoa on Friday to close the gap on their title rivals.

The win maintained Juve’s unbeaten record at home in Serie A this season as they bid to win the Scudetto for the first time since 2020, while the defeat leaves Roma seventh in the table and 17 points off the top.

Jose Mourinho’s side came into the game buoyed by last week’s 2-0 home win against defending champions Napoli and were also boosted by the return of Paulo Dybala, who had missed the last three games due to a thigh injury.

They duly made a bright start at the Allianz Stadium and were unlucky not to take the lead inside four minutes, Bryan Cristante’s well-struck shot taking a deflection off Dusan Vlahovic and slamming into a post as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny could only look on.

Vlahovic was also quickly into the action at the other end, curling a left-footed shot wide and slashing another effort with his other foot off target in quick succession.

Romelu Lukaku was similarly inaccurate for the visitors before Vlahovic finally got an effort on target after turning Diego Llorente on the edge of the area, only to see his shot superbly blocked by Gianluca Mancini.

Vlahovic looked determined to break the deadlock and even attempted a spectacular bicycle kick from outside the area which flew comfortably wide, before Kenan Yildiz produced a more threatening effort after being set free on the counter by Manuel Locatelli.

Dybala went closer still at the other end with an instinctive shot with the outside of his left foot which was inches wide, but an entertaining first half ended goalless thanks to a brilliant intervention from Roma defender Evan Ndicka.

Filip Kostic’s left-foot volley was struck into the ground and beyond goalkeeper Rui Patricio after Roma failed to deal with a long throw into the box, but Ndicka read the situation and cleared the danger with a perfectly-timed diving header.

The deadlock was finally broken within two minutes of the restart, Vlahovic cleverly flicking the ball into the path of Rabiot to allow the France international to beat the advancing Patricio at his near post.

Dybala remained Roma’s best hope of an equaliser and produced a shot on target from just outside the area midway through the second half, but Szczesny was able to make a comfortable save.

Weston McKennie then should have doubled Juve’s lead when he was found six yards out by substitute Federico Chiesa on a swift counter-attack, only for the United States international to shoot straight at Patricio.

Chiesa also had a goal ruled out for offside, but the home side saw out six minutes of added time without too much difficulty to secure all three points.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri said it gives him “great pride” to be compared with the likes of Roma counterpart Jose Mourinho.

The pair will lock horns on Saturday evening when Roma visit the Allianz Arena as Juve bid to keep the pressure on Serie A leaders Inter Milan in the title race.

Allegri told a press conference: “It always gives me great pleasure when I’m compared to the ‘old school’ coaches, together with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.

“Personally I believe there are a thousand variables in football, there is no absolute truth.

“Ancelotti is an extraordinary coach, who continues to win and is still doing a wonderful job.

“For Mourinho, the results speak for themselves. He has always achieved them. You may not even like him, but the rest matters little.

“Being compared to them is a source of great pride. The first time I faced Jose I was coaching Cagliari, I was still a ‘child’ and he was already a winning coach with Inter.”

Juve head into the year’s final round of Serie A fixtures in second place, four points behind Inter, who play at Genoa on Friday night.

Allegri added: “Roma are a ‘grumpy’ side at the moment, but have one of the best coaches ever on their bench.

“They are good at getting you out of the game and have quality in attack. Great attention is needed as well as patience and compactness, and we must not think of overdoing it.”

Allegri confirmed Alex Sandro (thigh) is “about 10 days” from a return to action, while Mattia De Sciglio and Moise Kean remain long-term absentees.

Roma, currently sixth in the table, 12 points behind Juve, will be buoyed by last week’s 2-0 home win against defending champions Napoli.

Mourinho’s side could also be boosted by the return of Paulo Dybala, who has missed the last three games due to a thigh injury.

Gianluca Mancini will “certainly play” on Saturday as he deals with an on-going groin issue, Mourinho said.

Juve are bidding for their first Serie A title in four years and when asked about their progress under Allegri, Mourinho told a press conference: “Juve are Juve and Allegri is still Allegri.

“We always know what to expect from the team and what to expect from Max.

“When we speak about risultatista (results-oriented) teams or coaches, it’s a strange term.

“I consider getting results to be the most important thing in football. Some people nowadays think it has a negative connotation. When people speak about a risultatista, all the connotations for me are positive.

“Juventus are just that. They defend in numbers and they defend well and when they go on the counter-attack they’re so strong. “

Mikel Arteta has called for managers and referees to work together to improve the game after the Arsenal boss avoided punishment for a recent outburst.

The Spaniard was charged by the Football Association after labelling the decision to award Anthony Gordon’s goal in a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle last month a “disgrace” and “embarrassing”.

It was announced on Thursday afternoon, however, that Arteta had escaped a fine or a touchline ban after an independent panel ruled the FA charge E3.1 was not proven.

Arteta, who returns to the dugout this week having been suspended for last weekend’s loss at Aston Villa after picking up three yellow cards, said he was pleased with the process.

He also explained why he was so passionate in the aftermath of the defeat at St James’ Park and cited the record number of Premier League managerial sackings last season as a reason why making the correct refereeing decisions is important in the long-term.

“I think it was a really good, well-run process,” he said.

“It gave the opportunity for both of us to say how we felt and the reasons behind it. OK, the outcome is that I’m not charged, but I think we have to draw a line now and look at how we can be more constructive and learn from it and move forward.

“I felt a lot of sympathy to be fair as I explained the pressure we feel as managers and how important details are for our job. I love what I do so much and I want to continue doing it. The reality was that 14 managers lost their jobs and we depend on results.

“When the outcome is that important we get really emotional about it. Nobody remembers three weeks ago when you lost a game because of a certain reason. So, I think it was a really good process.

“It was done. I defended my opinion. I expressed my opinion. I’m fully supportive of how we have to improve the game. Refs are a big part of that and they know that.

“Managers are a big part of that. We have the duty to do that. It’s good to discuss things in an open and honest way. This is what I tried to do.

“It’s not about them, it’s we. We want to do the game better. It’s about how we can improve on the touchline to make life easier from the players’ side, their (officials) side, technology-wise and the clubs. It’s all about us. We’re all in this together, it’s not about separate people trying to do their bits. That’s not going to work, we have to do it together.”

Part of the FA’s charge that was dismissed by the panel was the suggestion that Arteta’s profile as a Premier League manager should have been taken into consideration – given how far his comments would travel.

Previous FA charges against the likes of David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp have also cited their high-profile positions as reason for punishment following their respective indiscretions.

“We have a huge duty,” he replied when asked if those managers should be held to a higher standard.

“It’s part of our role to conduct ourselves in the best way and represent the game, our league and our clubs in the best possible way.

“This is what we try to do everyday. Sometimes better, sometimes worse but it is our intention (to do our best).”

Arteta also attended a meeting of the PGMOL, the Premier League and other Premier League managers two days before the Newcastle game – where the issue of VAR was on the agenda.

The written reasons published by the independent panel suggested Arteta had “participated” in the meeting and this was taken into account when he then criticised VAR and officiating on November 4.

But Arteta was tight-lipped when asked what he had brought to the table at the meeting.

“Those are private meetings that I can’t explain what we discussed. I’m sorry,” he said.

The ruling of the panel means Arteta will be on the touchline throughout Arsenal’s festive programme, starting with Sunday’s visit of Brighton.

“They are a really good side,” Arteta said of the Seagulls – whose 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium last season all-but ended Arsenal’s title hopes.

“It’s true that last year when we had the game in control, we conceded and then the game completely broke up and we struggled in the last 15 minutes of of the game. We’ll have to play better and be very efficient which is key against them.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino wants his side to convert this season’s lack of continental competition into a successful set of domestic cup runs.

The Blues moved one step closer to securing a first Carabao Cup since 2015 with a 2-0 last-16 victory over Blackburn on Wednesday night, and will host Newcastle in their December 19 quarter-final.

Should Chelsea go all the way, Pochettino would become just the third Blues manager in club history, after Gianluca Vialli and Jose Mourinho, to lead the five-time winners to a League Cup in his first season with the club.

He said: “We need to think that this is an important competition for us because we are not in Europe, and that should be the priority for us, like the Premier League, and when in January we start the FA Cup.

“Of course, we need to think that we can win this competition.”

Chelsea, 11th in the Premier League with just 12 points from their first 10 top-flight matches, sit 10 points behind Aston Villa, currently occupying fifth and the Europa League group stage position, and may need to defy recent odds to lift the League Cup.

Every winner since the 2017/18 season has also finished top four in the Premier League, though Chelsea have reached two finals in the last five seasons.

Pochettino’s ranks got a boost on Wednesday night, welcoming captain Reece James back to the starting line-up for the first time since August and Benoit Badiashile marking his first appearance since May with the opener at Stamford Bridge, where Raheem Sterling fired in the Blues’ second.

Still, the Argentinian knows there is work to be done and a morale boost necessary to improve on their 2-0 defeat to Brentford last Saturday and just one Premier League win at home, August’s 3-0 victory over newly-promoted Luton, particularly with Premier League leaders Tottenham followed by title holders Manchester City up next.

He said: “After Saturday it was important for us to win the (Blackburn) game, to go through in the competition, of course too many (missed) chances, we need to be more clinical, but that you cannot change from Saturday to (Wednesday), and now we try building the confidence.

“Now we’re looking forward to the next round but now to prepare for the next two games that are so important and into the international break.”

Blackburn boss Jon Dahl Tomasson was impressed by his side’s fight against their Premier League challengers, with the average age of his starters just 22.6 years old.

Blackburn particularly impressed in the first half, defending well inside their 18-yard box to deny Chelsea early chances, while Rovers were left to rue a potential Conor Gallagher handball shout that could have been a game-changer for the Championship side.

He said: “It’s true, we always need a bit of luck when you’re playing against a team who is on another level, because Chelsea is of course an excellent team, but still we need to be honest.

“They were better than we were. Nothing wrong with that. They should be better than we were.”

Chelsea and Jose Mourinho reached a settlement with former team doctor Eva Carneiro over her claims that she was constructively dismissed by the club, and victimised by its former manager, on this day in 2016.

Carneiro had brought the claim at an employment tribunal, accusing Mourinho of victimisation and discrimination. She was due to begin giving evidence but after last-minute talks between the parties, a settlement was agreed.

Mourinho made a surprise appearance at the hearing at the London South Employment Tribunal centre in Croydon.

Addressing the tribunal, Daniel Stilitz QC, for Chelsea and Mourinho, said: “We are pleased to be able to tell the tribunal that the parties agreed a settlement on confidential terms.”

The case was expected to last seven to 10 days and could have led to potentially embarrassing witness statements and documents – including texts and emails – being made public.

It was revealed that Carneiro had refused £1.2 million to settle her claims with Mourinho and Chelsea. Details of the final deal between the parties were not released.

Carneiro had alleged she was sexually discriminated against after she went on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during the opening day of the Premier League season on August 8, 2015.

She claimed that, as she ran on to the pitch during the game with Swansea, Mourinho shouted “filha da puta” at her.

In a statement to the tribunal, Mourinho conceded that he used the term “filho da puta”, meaning “son of a whore”, but insisted he had been using it throughout the match.

Carneiro was removed from first-team duties at Chelsea shortly after the Swansea game and then parted company with the club the following month.

Chelsea said in a statement: “The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused.

“We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.

“Dr Carneiro has always put the interests of the club’s players first. Dr Carneiro is a highly competent and professional sports doctor. She was a valued member of the club’s medical team and we wish her every success in her future career.”

Jose Mourinho's behaviour and the subsequent abuse of Anthony Taylor by Roma fans has led to former Premier League referee Mark Halsey calling for stricter punishments.

Taylor and his family were verbally and physically targeted at Budapest airport in the wake of Roma's Europa League final defeat to Sevilla.

Both teams felt aggrieved by some of Taylor's decisions in the game, but Mourinho was particularly vehement, and was filmed shouting abuse at the official long after the final whistle had blown.

Halsey was infuriated by what he saw.

"Everybody that's seen the footage or watched the game, I thought both teams' conduct with their players and the coaching staff was appalling," Halsey told Stats Perform.

"On the night I thought Anthony [Taylor] and his team had a superb game under the most difficult of circumstances. When players don't want to listen, it makes it so very difficult for the referee.

"The referee can only referee what's in front of him. If I was being ultra critical, perhaps they should have removed team officials from the bench. But having said that, I thought they were outstanding on the night.

"Obviously, the criticism of him in the car park when [Mourinho] volleyed abuse again, I think it's appalling, and Roma fans having seen that, I think that's what led to the scenes that we saw at the airport. As much as everybody loves Jose Mourinho, you cannot do that. You cannot condone these actions. 

"I think in the cold light of day, when he sits back down and looks at himself and his family looks at the way he behaves, I think they will think that he deserve everything that's coming his way regarding punishments."

Now, Halsey wants governing bodies such as UEFA to crack down on the abuse by enforcing points deductions.

He continued: "That was a showcase. The Premier League, the Champions League, Europa League are watched around the world by millions and millions of people, including children.

"In England, we have a problem at a grassroots level, we have a problem with youth football, we have a problem with parents. They watch that, and think they can get away with it.

"This season we've seen over £1.5million worth of fines dished out for player and team officials' behaviour on the field of play. Out of the 92 clubs, 52 have been charged £1.5m in fines. What does that tell you? That tells you that the fines are not working. 

"So we've got to start with the points deduction right at the very top. In fact, that goes for if you're playing the Champions League.

"If Roma are in the Europa League next season, and Sevilla are in the Champions League, they've got to start with a points deduction. [They've] got to hit the clubs in the pocket, and take the points away.

"Those points could stop them qualifying for the knockout stages. They've really got to come down hard on them."

As for Mourinho, Halsey hopes the Roma boss faces a significant punishment.

He said: "I just think it was absolutely appalling. I've never seen a game like that and a referee treated like that anywhere.

"Even in my time as an official, I never ever got treatment like that, and I refereed all over the world. That's why I think that UEFA has got to come down extremely hard on Roma and José as well as Sevilla for their behaviour on the field of play."

Jose Mourinho and Roma must take responsibility for their actions over the abuse of referee Anthony Taylor after the Europa League final, says Ref Support UK chief executive Martin Cassidy.

The Giallorossi were defeated on penalties by Sevilla following an ill-tempered 1-1 draw last Wednesday, bringing their coach's perfect record in continental finals to an end.

Mourinho lambasted Taylor's performance, with the Roma coach confronting the official following full-time, before fans harassed him at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport afterwards.

Cassidy, who leads a charity that offers support to match officials, suggested Mourinho's conduct exacerbated matters, and that both him and his club need to own up to their actions.

"My reaction was shock, but not surprise," he told Stats Perform. "I just hope that Anthony and his family are well and safe. To see the way it's manifested itself [is awful].

"I believe Jose Mourinho needs to take a chunk of responsibility here for this gerrymandering he has been doing that's resulted in this. Roma fans don't need any encouragement to behave in the way that the video has shown.

"It'd be really good to see Roma come out and condemn misbehaviour. I haven't seen it. It'd be really good if Jose Mourinho would come out and condemn this behaviour.

"It'd be great to see where UEFA are in this and what they want to do and what went wrong. Hundreds of referees go out each season abroad [and] we don't have these situations happen.

"It wouldn't take a genius to figure out that that was going to be a very hostile situation for Anthony."

Cassidy also reiterated fears that the abuse surrounding Taylor could have a further negative effect on grassroots officials, who already are forced to deal with harassment and improper conduct.

"How he kept his manner so calm when that was going on just shows the strength of character and emotional intelligence that Anthony Taylor has got," he added.

"[But] we're talking about the guy who had worldwide praise for how he responded to Christian Eriksen when he collapsed on a pitch.

"This isn't some run-of-the-mill, meat-and-two-veg ref we are talking about here. If he can find himself in these situations, what hope have grassroots referees got?

"It's a terrible end to the season for him. It should have ended on a highlight. You know if it wasn't for Manchester City getting to the Champions League final, I dare say that Anthony Taylor would have been doing [that].

"He will be devastated that it's ended this way, when it should be on an absolute peak of achievements. But I really believe that he will be getting supported.

"It's going to take a long time for [him] to get over his family being in that position. I think it'll take a long time for anyone to get over.

"Praise to him, he never reacted, he was controlled. He looked after his family and he got them out of that situation. But shame on Roma and shame on Jose Mourinho."

Jose Mourinho should be suspended from coaching and Roma barred from European competitions following the "disgraceful" harassment of Anthony Taylor after Wednesday's Europa League final.

That is the view of Martin Cassidy, chief executive of Ref Support UK – a charity committed to supporting officials – after Taylor was abused following Roma's penalty shoot-out defeat to Sevilla.

Roma boss Mourinho was fiercely critical of Taylor's performance as Sevilla won a record-extending seventh Europa League title via spot-kicks following an ill-tempered 1-1 draw in Budapest.

Thirteen players were booked during the match, while Gonzalo Montiel scored his winning penalty at the second attempt after Rui Patricio was punished for encroachment after initially saving his kick.  

Mourinho was seen shouting expletives at Taylor after the game, and the English official was harassed by Giallorossi supporters when at Budapest Airport with his family.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Cassidy outlined the strong punishments he would like to see issued to coaches who abuse officials. 

"I'd be interested to speak to the legal people in UEFA and FIFA, to see if they could take their coaching badges away from them," Cassidy said.

"Take it away from them. Say, 'I'm sorry, we are going to suspend your badge, you can't coach at that level'. Let's see what that does.

"Obviously, big legal challenges will come that way. But let's have things in place to say, 'Look, a stadium ban is not working on you and one or two fines when you are a multimillionaire are not going to bother you'. 

"Let's really hurt you, let's take you away from being able to coach, let's suspend your coaching badge. Job done."

Cassidy believes Mourinho's behaviour is being replicated by grassroots coaches, and says his club should be barred from Europe or handed a points deduction for next season. 

"It's just disgraceful," he added. "How many chances does this man [Mourinho] want before some national governing body or UEFA or FIFA take appropriate action against him? 

"This behaviour he shows manifests itself at grassroots level when there's a youth referee in the middle, and little mini-Mourinhos are on the sidelines repeating and replicating those antics. 

"It's not good at all. And I just think, the managers – it's not just Jose Mourinho – other people do it and have been doing for a long time… they throw in a small fine, it might be £100 or £1,000. 

"That's a small fine for some of these people, for some of them it is not even a week's wages. They throw in a ban, well, Jose Mourinho has been banned before from stadiums and still found a way of doing his coaching.

"What are UEFA going to do? I think don't allow them to play in Europe next year. 

"If they do allow them to play in Europe, let's have them on a minus points deficit of say three or four points, let's just have a message that is different to what we've been doing previously."

Roma boss Jose Mourinho said he was proud of his players despite defeat on penalties to Sevilla in the Europa League final.

Mourinho was set to become the most decorated European manager in history with six major trophies and after a Paulo Dybala goal put them in front in Budapest it was looking likely.

However, the Italian team went on to concede an own goal and lost 4-1 on penalties as Roger Ibanez and Gianluca Mancini missed from the spot.

Mourinho, who appeared to give his medal to a child in the stands after the game, told UEFA.com: “I’ve won five European finals over the years and on this occasion I’m no less proud than the five times I won.

“I am proud of the players. I told them before that we would either be leaving with the cup or we’d be dead on our feet.

“We’re leaving dead on our feet. The players are totally exhausted and so am I, both physically and psychologically.”

 

 

Sevilla players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot-out (Adam Davy/ PA)We felt pressure against a team that has more talent than us. We lost a game but not dignity. I’ve never gone home prouder than today, even when I won.

“We had also worked hard on penalties but we missed two – but all together, not only the penalty takers.

“The boys must go home peacefully, with pride for having done what they have done. These are my boys from Budapest.”

Roma’s former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling added: “It’s a big disappointment. When it comes to penalties it’s hard to lose.

“We were determined to win and we left everything on the pitch. Seeing others celebrate will stay with us for a long time. We have to try to have another chance next season.”

Meanwhile, Sevilla forward Erik Lamela told BT Sport it was a really tough game as Sevilla won their seventh Europa League title.

“This is amazing, I can’t ask for more, this feeling is unbelievable,” the former Tottenham player said.

“(It was a) really tough game, not an easy game to play, we were not feeling in our best way because they defended well and it was difficult to find the spaces and create situations.

“But this team fought it out and tonight we’re going to enjoy it.”

Jose Mourinho ranks as the best manager Willian has worked with and the former Brazil attacker hopes more European honours will be heading the Roma coach's way.

Willian was part of Mourinho's Chelsea squad as the Blues secured a Premier League and EFL Cup double in 2015.

The Fulham winger and Italian coach have since gone their separate ways but Willian still holds Mourinho in the highest of regards, hoping his former boss can lift yet another trophy this season.

Mourinho has guided Roma to the Europa League final, in which they face Sevilla, and Willian made it clear where his allegiances lie for that showpiece on Wednesday.

"For me, Mourinho is the best manager I've had, I always say that," he told Stats Perform. "In the way he works every day, in the way he talks, in the way he motivates.

"He is a different manager and, for me, the best I've had. As he says: 'The special one'. 

"I hope that he wins this trophy because he is a manager that sometimes gives a lot of people the impression that he is arrogant or something like that.

"But on a daily basis, we see that he is a great manager. He jokes when he has to, and he hits hard when he has to.

"He's real. When you don't play well, he says it in front of you, but when you play, he says it too. He's a great manager, an amazing manager.

"He is a winning manager, and he has a chance to win another title in his career."

Victory over Sevilla would secure Mourinho's sixth European title of his managerial career, having lifted various UEFA trophies with Porto (two), Roma, Inter and Manchester United.

The most recent of those successes came last season as Roma triumphed in the inaugural Europa Conference League with a final victory over Feyenoord.

Jose Mourinho has claimed Tottenham are the only one of his former clubs to which he does not feel any connection.

The Portuguese, 60, spent 17 months at Spurs but was sacked by chairman Daniel Levy in April 2021 just a week before they were to play Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.

Mourinho had previously managed Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United, and has subsequently taken charge at Roma, winning the Europa Conference League and leading them to the final of this season’s Europa League, where they play Sevilla next Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of that fixture, Mourinho told a press conference: “I hope the Tottenham fans don’t get me wrong but the only club in my career where I don’t have still a deep feeling for is Tottenham.

“Probably because the stadium was empty, Covid time. Probably because Mr Levy didn’t let me win a final and win a trophy.”

Mourinho, who has been linked with a move to Paris St Germain this summer, was responding to a question about his future with Roma.

“We will be connected forever, like I am with all my previous clubs, apart from Mr Levy’s club,” he said.

“It’s the only one, so after that – Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United – all the clubs I feel a connection. Maybe people (will say) you cannot love every club – yes, I love every club.”

Stefano Pioli feels Milan dropped two points against Roma despite Alexis Saelemaekers snatching a draw with a 97th-minute equaliser at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

The Rossoneri headed into the match in the Champions League places but above fifth-placed Roma on just goal difference, and it appeared the Giallorossi would leapfrog Pioli's men as Tammy Abraham scored in the 94th minute with the match's first shot on target.

But with Roma seconds away from a huge win, Saelemaekers turned home from Rafael Leao's deep cross to break the hosts' hearts and keep Milan in the top four.

Despite his team snatching a draw at the death, Pioli still felt Milan dropped two points, with city rivals Inter just three points behind and with a game in hand.

When asked if Roma had dropped points, Pioli replied: "For us too, it means that tonight we all go home unhappy. It's not the result we wanted.

"We didn't play badly, we lacked the right decisions in the last 30 metres. It's a shame we didn't exploit situations. We knew that the difficulty was to unlock the match, we didn't succeed."

Roma may have seen a crucial three points slip through their fingers with seconds to play, but head coach Jose Mourinho remained appreciative of his players' efforts, telling reporters: "I'm sad, but I'm more proud than sad. 

"Only we can do what we've done, only us with all our limitations, only us with all the players we've lost, could play this match against Milan. Milan have two teams, one on the pitch and one on the bench. I'm not envious of Pioli; he is always fair and nice to me.

"I'm super proud and I'm sure Roma fans go home like I do, sad but proud."

A 97th-minute Alexis Saelamaekers equaliser stunned Roma and earned Milan a point at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to maintain their place in the Serie A Champions League places.

Milan headed into the game above the Giallorossi on just goal difference, and it appeared it would remain that way as a quiet affair was moments away from finishing goalless.

But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Abraham fired into the bottom corner to send the home fans into raptures and seemingly lift Jose Mourinho's men above the visitors.

However, Saelemaekers stuck in the dying seconds to nick a draw for Milan and extend their unbeaten Serie A streak against Roma to seven matches.

Milan's game against Roma on Saturday is "worth double" as both teams vie for Champions League qualification, says Rossoneri head coach Stefano Pioli.

Milan occupy the all-important fourth place in Serie A, but only by virtue of their superior goal difference, with Roma also on 56 points ahead of Saturday's vital clash.

Pioli's men head to Stadio Olimpico where the Giallorossi have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight home league matches, with no other team in the top five European leagues keeping more since the turn of the year.

Pioli acknowledged the importance of the fixture in his pre-match press conference, telling reporters: "We need to give continuity to our performances, making sure that the next match is the most important one.

"Tomorrow's match is worth double and we need to face it with the right spirit and convictions.

"It's worth a lot. After tomorrow there will be six games left. The more points we get, the more chance we have of getting into the top-four places, which is our great goal."

Pioli was asked about his close relationship with winger Rafael Leao, who recently said his head coach was like his "father" having accumulated 22 goal involvements in 41 appearances for Milan this season in all competitions.

"My players are all my children, from morning to night," Pioli said. "Even when I'm at home I think of them.

"I talk to them every day, both about football and about other situations: they are lucky, but they have the problems of 20-year-olds.

"Rafa is the player who has been in my office the most in recent years, so there is the strongest bond."

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