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Di Francesco: We have to learn from this and grow

Read everything coach Eusebio Di Francesco had to say in the wake of Roma's Champions League semi-final exit on Wednesday night.

The Giallorossi won 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico, but exited the competition 7-6 on aggregate against Liverpool after a frantic and unpredictable two-legged affair.

Di Francesco was first asked about two penalty decisions that went against the Giallorossi in the second half.

Those two penalty decisions proved costly...

“Mistakes can make all the difference, especially when it's a team like ours that's not used to playing big games at this level and a coach managing in the Champions League for the first time. We did so well and we showed how far we've come but we could have done even better.

“I'm disappointed because we could have shown even more belief. Going back out for the second half I told the lads that just as we'd scored three against Barcelona we could score four against Liverpool. We showed that and if you look at the chances we created and the decisions that went against us it's disappointing more than anything.

“At the end of the day, I can only pay credit to the lads because what we managed to do was extraordinary. It's not easy when you go 2-1 down in the first half – having gifted two goals to the opposition – to then come out and respond the way we did, putting Liverpool under the cosh without getting caught on the break.

“We were almost perfect today – unlike at Anfield, where in 45 minutes we ruined so much of the good work we'd done beforehand.”

Where do you need to improve now to go that one step further?

“We're going to have to ask the lads to produce that little bit more. It would be great if we could play in another semi-final like today. We still have to qualify for next year's Champions League in Serie A but our performance tonight should make us realise that we can compete in the Champions League.

“We have lots of young lads in the squad who just need to bide their time and keep developing. It hasn't been easy to get where we are. We've improved so much but I don't want to settle for this – we must keep moving forward and do even better.”

Is now the time to call on UEFA to introduce VAR?

“That's up to the club – it's not up to me to raise my voice on that issue.

“What I can say is that when we score in the 86th minute we have to pick up the ball and place it back in the centre circle. There are important things we need to learn: with experience and intelligence you know that instead of playing along with your opponents you should focus on scoring and believing in what you've done. I'm even more disappointed because I really did believe and I think there were a few occasions where we wasted time.”

What could you have done better tonight?

“[Patrik] Schick should have come inside more to help out, but they have players who make it hard for you. [Sadio] Mane was full of beans tonight – he was really on form. They have fantastic players up front and they've spent lots of money so that they can do well in the Champions League.

“It's a shame [Stephan] El Shaarawy got cramp because he was playing well and I'd have preferred to keep him on.

“In terms of our performance tonight, I don't really have any complaints to make but it's the small details that make the difference. Conceding that fifth goal from a corner in the first leg makes a difference. We'll take all those little things and try to learn from them and improve.”

Were the players aware of the refereeing mistakes during the game?

“They were, yes. But it doesn't change anything now – we'd just be wasting time. It's gutting but we showed what we're capable of out there. With 20 minutes left to play, a red card and a penalty could have made a big difference as we could have really put Liverpool on the ropes.

“But we have must forward now and lick our wounds because we made mistakes of our own.”

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