Luciano Spalletti believes Roma were fully deserving of their 3-1 victory over Inter Milan on Sunday. The Giallorossi took all three points - and completed the double over the Nerazzurri - thanks to two brilliant strikes from Radja Nainggolan and a late penalty from Diego Perotti.
“Roma deserved to win tonight," Spalletti said. "Our performance proved that. Penalties is all that’s been spoken about all week. Inter are a great side and they have a winning mentality, but defeats happen. We produced a good performance and got no less than we deserved.”
Were you expecting Inter to play like they did tonight?
“Yes, because [Stefano] Pioli has that kind of mentality and Inter play good football. Even when they lost against Juventus, they made it hard for them. Plus they were without Miranda tonight. They caused us a few problems at times tonight. We knew [Ivan] Perisic could play anywhere on the wing because [Edin] Dzeko played with him at Wolfsburg and told us about it. It was important that Juan Jesus didn’t push on, as I’d asked him to, and he had a fantastic game. His job was to find [Radja] Nainggolan in the space further forward to bring [Jeison] Murillo out, leaving Dzeko alone in the penalty area. That was the main tactic for us tonight.”
Inter had won nine of their previous ten games before tonight, but you showed impressive balance at the back and scored three goals:
“It was a great performance and we deserved to take the lead and score a second. We didn’t manage possession too well at times – we gave it away too often – but it was a top match from us tonight.”
Why did you decide to go with Juan Jesus tonight?
“It was a decision between Juan Jesus and Mario Rui. [Antonio] Candreva is a very physical, pacey player and I gave Mario Rui 90 minutes in the Europa League, plus we needed more of a defensively minded player. Juan Jesus did push on a bit, but I asked him to only go so far.”
Nainggolan scored two more lovely goals tonight – what more can you say about him?
“That’s what he does. He’s never happier than when playing football. He’s an incredibly talented player.”
Federico Fazio is a rock at the heart of the defence at the moment:
“I remember looking at him when I was Zenit manager. Our only doubt this time around was why he hadn’t been playing, but [Diego] Perotti – who’s a great friend of his – told us that he was fine physically. There was no doubt in our minds. Both my staff and the Roma scouts had been following him for ages. He has strength and character in abundance. He could even play in midfield – he looks that comfortable on the ball when he has to play it out. He has plenty of pace too – he’s huge but has a long stride and always gets to his man.”
Would you say that the key to Roma’s form this season has been their mental fortitude? Not all sides manage to back up good football with results:
“Lots of teams play nice football in Italy, Inter being one of them. We wanted to incorporate more structure into the defence, partly because we’re not moving the ball around in midfield as well as we did last year. At times we go too direct and make bad decisions. In possession we’re not as good as we were last year – we give it away too much.”
Who taught Perotti to take penalties like that?
“You should see it when he practises them with our goalies. He waits until the last second – he doesn’t know where he’s going to put it until his foot is ten centimetres away from the ball. The keeper is never going to get them.”