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    Mourinho: Continuing in this competition was a matter of pride for us

    See what the boss had to say following Thursday's vital Europa League victory over Ludogorets...

    Roma progressed to the next phase of the Europa League after coming from behind to beat Ludogorets 3-1 on Thursday evening.

    Lorenzo Pellegrini (2) and Nicolo Zaniolo scored the second half goals in the must-win game for the Giallorossi, who will now face a side dropping down from the Champions League in the play-off round of the competition.

    Here's what Jose Mourinho had to say after the game...

    Roma had to win tonight. After the first half, it wasn’t looking good at all. How did you turn things around during the interval?

    “It was a really tough game tonight. They know how to play and they have players with speed and imagination and they are capable of doing what they did for the first goal – or what they did at their place, in the first meeting that we lost. They are not an easy side to face. But in the second half we went all in, we had a different attitude about us and a different intensity.

    “Zaniolo’s attributes obviously helped us a lot, because it’s different playing with two out-and-out strikers like Tammy and Belotti and then playing with one of them and Nico. The first goal came and then from that we did the rest.

    “But we need to play better, we need to manage games better. The sides that come into the play-off round are from the Champions League, they are a different level. It was important for us to get through the group; that was a matter of pride and our evolution. Now the sharks enter the fray.”

    Volpato did well when he came on, and Pellegrini was calm over both the penalties – you talk about attitude a lot and they both showed that…

    “In terms of the attitude, I can’t criticise any of them. I do want to say one thing that I don’t really like and I think is a bit unfair – the fans need to have more respect for Matias Vina. Because away from home, Vina is a different player. At home, there are a few noises around the stadium that don’t help him. And I don’t like that, because Vina is one of those players who always has an exemplary attitude.

    “You mention Volpato and Pellegrini, two players who have a lot of creativity. When he came on Volpato was very dynamic. The next step in his development is to learn what to do when the team has to defend, because he still hasn’t learned that. Now he plays quicker than he did previously while keeping the same creativity – and he has my trust to show that creativity on the pitch. But when we don’t have the ball and we need to defend, it’s a bit tougher for him.”

    We see so often that young players come in and freshen things up for teams – and you’ve said that there is a plan in place for these young players and you enjoy giving them opportunities…

    “It’s true, I like to do. But if we put out players who don’t have the ability, or who are not ready for it, or we do it just for the statistics – so the world can say that we have given two, three, four young players a chance … that isn’t the target. The target is to help them improve and then, when they do come on, they come on and are ready to contribute.

    “It’s worth nothing that last year when Volpato came on against Verona, we were 2-0 down. This time, when he come on in Verona, it was 1-1 but we needed to score. When he plays he creates a lot of opportunities. He’s unpredictable and he causes unpredictable things to happen to the opposition too. The next step for him is to understand how to play without the ball, what to do defensively.

    “When he plays in an attacking role he already knows what to do. But today, once it was 2-1, we needed him to keep things tight in midfield, and he doesn’t quite have that in his game just yet. Those are the things you need to learn to become a more complete player.

    “But it’s great to see young players come through. It’s good to see them playing at Juventus, too. When we get to 60 years old, with more than 20 years as a coach, those are the things that give you joy. For example, for me I gave Varane his debut and he went on to become a champion of the world. I gave Casemiro his debut and he went on to win the Champions League five times. Those sort of players make you smile when have grey hair.”

    How valuable is this win for Roma?

    “First and foremost, continuing on in the Europa League is a matter of pride for us. Because it’s the competition we started the season in and going into the Conference League and becoming one of the big teams there, being one of the candidates to win it all – like Fiorentina, Lazio, West Ham, Villarreal – was not our target.

    “So we are still in the Europa League, we are in the play-off, and we know that the sharks are arriving now and everything is going to be harder. Perhaps we don’t have the conditions, given the size of our squad … but who knows, we will see. Maybe we aren’t in a position to celebrate like we did last year. But, after the defeat against Napoli we have now won three games in a row, including one in a league and this one which was effectively a knockout match.

    “Clearly we are tired, and Pellegrini and Smalling both played 90 minutes yet again. But, my way of thinking is this: the next game is always the most important one. And leaving out players and then getting knocked out would have been….

    “I was never a top-class player, but I always think that the one thing that helps you overcome tiredness is happiness. Happiness when you win. The same goes for satisfaction. And, in that sense, we go home tonight happy and satisfied. Sunday we will be back here. A massive game, but also a game that we love to play.”