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Fonseca: Injuries cost us dear in the second half

Here's what Paulo Fonseca had to say following Thursday's Europa League defeat against Manchester United.

The Giallorossi fell to a 6-2 defeat at Old Trafford, leaving them facing a considerably uphill battle to reach the final of the competition.

Fonseca's side suffered three separate first half injuries to key players yet still led at half-time - only to concede five unanswered goals in the second half.

Here's what the boss had to say...

How do you assess this defeat?

“It’s a tough one, obviously. We did well in the first half, but unfortunately we didn’t come back out for the second half. We were up against it a bit, because we lost three players to injury and so we couldn’t make any more substitutions. Later on both Amadou Diawara and Chris Smalling were battling issues. So it was a really tough second half for us.”

Is a second half like that not unforgivable?

“After a first half performance like that, it’s hard to explain why the team came out again without the same aggression, giving up too much space and making lots of mitakes. When Manchester United scored their third goal we couldn’t find the mental strength to get back on our feet. But it’s not easy to play against a team like United, especially when you can’t make any changes.”

Does this loss erase everything else that you’ve done this season in the Europa League?

“It’s a big positive to have reached the semi-finals, and the first half performance shows that the squad can fight with anyone – but in the second half we got it all wrong.”

What do you mean by that?

“It wasn’t a tactical issue. We prepared well for the game and we showed that in the first half – we didn’t really give Manchester many chances. Players made the right choices. But we lost important players in the early stages of the game and after that we didn’t have the mental strength to keep fighting in the second half.”

Could you not have defended deeper in that second half?

“We tried to – but when you have the ball, you need to try to attack. We couldn’t bounce back after United’s third goal and without being able to make any substitutions it became too tough.”

In what way are you to blame for that?

“I am always the first person responsible. In every moment. I don’t want to make excuses. I’m just analysing what happened during the game. I won’t shy away from my responsibility.”

Do you think you are reaching the end of your time with Roma?

“Let’s see. Right now it’s not the time to talk about it, we need to stay balanced.”

What will you say to the players ahead of the second leg?

“It’s hard to know, we don’t even know right now which players we will have available for the next game. Right now what is important is to make sure we can have as many players as possible back for the next match. That’s what I’m worried about right now.”

 
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