UEFA Europa League


Coach Paulo Fonseca was more than content with the efforts of his players, after they completed their passage into the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Thursday night.

The Giallorossi won 2-1 in Kiev to complete a 5-1 aggregate victory over Shakhtar Donetsk - as Borja Mayoral scored both goals on the night.

Here is what Fonseca told reporters after the contest...

You could see the team’s identity out there tonight – a courageous display.

“It was important to start the game well, and not to concede a goal in the first 30 minutes. Shakhtar had the initiative at the start, but I think we defended really well and launched some dangerous counter-attacks too.

“In the second half, we tweaked the positioning a little bit in places and we started to have more of the ball and create a few more chances. It was a very pragmatic performance. It was important to win tonight – Roma have never won away from home against Shakhtar, and we’ve never been to the quarter-finals of the [current] Europa League.”

Do you feel like maybe your style of play is better suited to European games than the Italian league?

“I think we’ve shown that we are well-suited to Italian football. Perhaps there is some truth there though – in competitions like this teams have to go out and win matches, and that gives everyone more space to play in.”

What sort of game will it be against Napoli on Sunday?

“We’ll see. Now I’ll start thinking about that game.”

How is Roger Ibanez doing?

“He’s okay. He doesn’t really remember anything that happened during the game.”

The only foreign coach, the only Italian team progressing in Europe as of right now – is that a coincidence?

“Yeah, it’s just a coincidence. Italian coaches are really good. We shouldn’t forget that last season Inter Milan got to the final under Antonio Conte.”

Beating Shakhtar is a statement of intent. Is victory in the Europa League more realistic than finishing in the top four in Serie A?

“It’s not easy in the league, there are a lot of really good sides. There are seven who are all aiming to finish in the Champions League spots. They are all focusing on the league, whereas we have the Europa League to think about too. But nevertheless we want to fight as hard as we can to finish in the top four.”

Was it a mistake not to take off Rick Karsdorp before he picked up that suspension?

“No. I thought about making the change, but it happens. We have alternatives.”

You always keep a very level head. Have you learned to cope with our way of judging everything?

“Yes, Italians are pretty similar to the Portuguese. You always have to understand the mentality and try to adapt to it. Balance is important not just in football but in life as well. I always try to transmit that attitude to the players, and indeed everyone who works with me.”

(Photo Getty Images)