UEFA Europa Conference League

MOURINHO: WE WERE THE BETTER SIDE FROM START TO FINISH

See what Mourinho had to say after Roma beat Bodo/Glimt 4-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League on Thursday...

Tammy Abraham and Nicolo Zaniolo (3) scored the goals to send the Norwegian champions out of the competition 5-2 on aggregate.

The Giallorossi will now face Leicester City for a place in the final of the competition.

What’s the biggest takeaway for you tonight?

“All of it; to get to the semi-final, first of all, which was clearly the most important thing. But also the way we played from the very first minute, with good pressing, intensity and quality on the ball.

"I think that even when it was still just 1-0 or 2-0, all of us knew that we had the game won.”

You were very confident in your chances yesterday too…

“I was even after the first leg in Norway, even after losing 2-1 there I didn’t feel like we were posed great problems and I felt we were the better side.

"The credit goes to the players, because they were focused throughout the game tonight. We are the better side and I don’t think it is acceptable that we only beat Bodo at the fourth time of asking. But, nevertheless, what matters is this: it was 2-1 to them but it finished 5-2 for us.”

This will be your 11th European semi-final. But what does it mean to you to reach this stage of the competition with a full stadium cheering you on?

“It’s fantastic. The fans are fully behind the team. The empathy, the passion … it’s very, very positive. Now we go to face Napoli and if they are going into the game trying to win the title, we are going there to try and win to finish fifth.”

Over the last few days there have been debates about playing good football or not – with different coaches disagreeing. What is your position on that?

“To play well and win is the ideal, that’s great. Playing well and losing though, that I don’t like. That sort of thing is only liked by those who talk about the philosophy that “my team has an identity, I am a coach with a clear identity’ … but then those coaches end up winning nothing.

"I think that we play much better than some people seem to think. I watched the game back against Salernitana and in the second half we played some really good stuff.

“We have played some really good football in games. I think it’s too easy to say that we have 'spirit', that we haven’t lost for so long because we are 'well-organised' … I think we actually play much better than people say. Today we were simply the better side.

“At the half-time break I told the players not to try and humiliate them, not to try to score six goals just because they scored six against us – but to focus on getting into the semi-finals in the best way possible, and that is by dominating the ball and the game.

"It’s understandable that in the last 10 minutes everyone was a bit tired and we dropped back a bit, that we started watching the clock a bit. But we showed the right spirit and we deserved the result.

“We have already played 12 games in the Conference League and it is not easy to play on Thursday and then Sunday – but we are still in it and unfortunately now we are the only Italian side left standing in Europe too.”

How are you handling Zaniolo – and is his performance tonight a result of that man-management?

“But Zaniolo is being sold! And if he is being sold, then people talk too much about him – why he plays, why he doesn’t play, why he’s injured or why he’s on the bench. You talk about him too much. It would be better for him, for Roma and for Italian football if you left the talented young Italian players alone.

“Today we were able to hide the fact that he was going to play. Everyone said that he would be in the bench again, but I knew perfectly well that a player like him is important in games like this in order to get in behind teams, and he did that really well.

“Obviously we are all really happy for him, and tomorrow I expect to at least see him on the front page of the newspapers for positive reasons.”

(Photo LaPresse)

www.asroma.com



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