Serie A TIM

SPALLETTI: "WE BATTLED WELL AT A HOSTILE GROUND"

Luciano Spalletti declared himself pleased with the performance of his side following Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Porto. Roma were 1-0 up thanks to Felipe's own goal prior to Thomas Vermaelen's 41st minute red card, an incident that unsurprisingly changed the course of the contest. After dominating possession for much of the opening period the visitors had to hold on somewhat in the second half at the Estadio do Dragao - but Spalletti, while acknowledging his side can improve in some areas, declared himself content with the display.

"I'm very happy with the way my players played today, in our first competitive match of the season," Spalletti said. "They were a delight to watch. If you want a technical analysis, I should say that we gave the ball away too much towards the end of the first half after we'd taken the lead. We were trying to force things a bit too much when we should have been looking to control the game. We could have waited for them to come at us more since they were behind and we'd have been able to exploit the space, but instead we tried to force things, which is something an experienced side like ours shouldn't do. We could have avoided getting ourselves booked as well but I must say we really were excellent in the opening period. We battled from the off at a hostile ground. I'm very happy with our performance."

Did you expect the team to be a bit fitter?
“It might look like it was a fitness problem from the outside but it's more to do with the fact that we gave the ball away too easily for a team with as much quality as we have. We allowed Porto to take control of the game. We wasted energy: chasing the opposition all the time is demanding both physically and mentally.”

What did you think of your team's reaction after going down to 10 men?
“We had to re-organise ourselves at the end of the first half following [Thomas] Vermaelen's sending-off. I had to tick them off for one or two things, but that's normal. I thought [Edin] Dzeko was superb and so too was [Mohamed] Salah. In the second half they both toiled for the team and carried out their defensive duties well. We stayed compact. I knew I had a great team and tonight they showed me that.”

So the result was good, but what didn't go so well?
“We tried to take the game to them and after we went 1-0 up Porto dropped deep into their own half, so there was no space. We should have kept possession more but instead we tried to get the ball forward quickly, giving them both possession and space. Porto have some very talented players in their team, especially in the final third, and by playing the way we did we ended up playing into their hands.”

What about Vermaelen's red card?
“A player of Vermaelen's experience shouldn't have got that first yellow card, but the second was more understandable. He shouldn't have committed the first foul. For the second one, the striker was heading towards goal and he had to take a chance, which is what he did. After the way we played in the first half we shouldn't have had both our centre-backs on a booking after 30 minutes.”

(Photo LaPresse)

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