UEFA Champions League


Read what coach Eusebio Di Francesco had to say in the wake of Roma's 2-1 defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. The Giallorossi led late in the first half thanks to Cengiz Under's clinical finish, only to be undone by second half strikes from Facundo Ferreyra and Fred. Speaking after the game, the Roma coach bemoaned his side's failure to show the same intensity in the second half as they had in the first.

“I saw two completely different teams out there today," Di Francesco said. "There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal. Unfortunately, we gave them encouragement because our intensity dropped off and we made less of an effort to play our game. The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what, I don't know. I'm not at all happy with how we played after the break. We have the chance to turn things around in the second leg now but it's a shame because given the opportunities we had in the opening 50 minutes we should have capitalised better. It was also disappointing to concede a goal from a pass played forward by an opposition defender – we should have been able to read that easily. That still doesn't explain why we played the way we did at the end of the game. There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

How do you explain it? Was it arrogance, fear, or did you just get sloppy?
“I can't imagine we'd get arrogant just because we're winning an important game, It's not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year. We were all determined to do well but we eased off. We'll analyse everything and see if it was a fitness issue or something else that made us start playing differently. We lost the ball far too often with talented players playing between the lines or trying to get the ball forward. Our passing was laboured in the second period, unlike in the first half when we were able to hurt them when we got forward."

What sort of period is this for Edin Dzeko?
“I'm sure he'll give us something to cheer about in the return leg. I believe in him because he's a top player – his pass to play in Cengiz Under for the goal was superb. In the second half the other players didn't see the runs he was making off the shoulder. It's a shame because it could have made all the difference in a match against a team like Shakhtar who defend the way they do.”

What about Alisson? Did you realise he was this good when you took over in the summer?
“His greatest talent is making difficult saves look easy. He covers the goal so well. He never dives for the crowd; he's just effective – exactly how I want my goalkeeper to be. When he's had to come up big he's shown he's a great keeper.”

How tiring was it for you to play against a team with so much width?
“We struggled a little in the first 10 minutes and I changed things around a bit so that we closed them down differently. I put [Radja] Nainggolan on their man in the middle instead of Cengiz so that we weren't leaving ourselves exposed in the area where they were good at creating a numerical advantage. But when your opponents play with so much width you have to be good enough to win the ball back and play it forward quickly. We that did very well in the first half but we were slow after the break and gave them the chance to regroup.”

(Photo LaPresse)