Jose Mourinho salutes Paulo Dybala after Feyenoord strike: ‘He has found joy here’


Jose Mourinho paid tribute to Paulo Dybala, whose late intervention helped Roma through to the Europa League semi-finals.

Jose Mourinho saluted Paulo Dybala after his late equaliser paved the way for Roma’s dramatic extra-time victory over Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

The Giallorossi set up a semi-final showdown with Bayer Leverkusen after coming from behind to beat Feyenoord 4-2 on aggregate at the Stadio Olimpico.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Roma were on the brink of elimination after Igor Paixao’s header canceled out Leonardo Spinazzola’s earlier strike.

But Dybala, introduced as a substitute after missing Sunday’s win over Udinese through injury, leveled the tie with a sharp turn and finish to force extra-time in which further strikes from Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini sealed the deal.

It was the former Juventus striker’s 16th goal of the season and fourth in the Europa League – only surpassed by Marcus Rashford, Victor Boniface (both six) and Santiago Gimenez (five) – and his performances drew praise from his head coach.

“I feel he was looking for joy, he lost more than confidence,” Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia.

“He found it here. He found a coach who understands him, a crowd that loves him and a space on the field where he can be a leader with his quality and personality.”

“Dybala is a nice boy, he has the quality to play for the biggest clubs in the world, but he found joy here.

“I gave him absolute freedom to come on tonight and he could leave two minutes later if he didn’t feel like it. But he played 30 minutes of extra time and 25 minutes of regulation and finished high.” ”

Meanwhile, Dybala also paid tribute to Mourinho, who guided Roma to the Europa Conference League title last season and is closing in on a sixth triumph in the European competition.

“I think everyone knows Mourinho, his history, what he’s done in Europe and in every club he’s been in, I think he’s won something,” the striker added.

“His mentality feeds you. He knew the game could end like this and he pushed us to give something more. He changed the tactical system, we started playing better and dominated the extra time for a well-deserved victory.

“I think we all want to win, which is the most important thing. We have a coach with an incredible mentality. He told us the game was going to be like this, and he was absolutely right.

“This team won the Europa Conference League last season so they know what it takes to win. Now we hope to progress in the Europa League as well.”


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