Eusebio Di Francesco praised Roma for their 2-1 victory over Porto, but warned the “worst mistake we could make” in the second leg would be to defend.
Nicolò Zaniolo had put the hosts 2-0 up with a brace within six minutes, but Adrian Lopez made the most of a ricochet to give Porto a potentially decisive away goal in this Champions League Round of 16.
“It’s a pity about the result, but I congratulated the lads for their solidity, for creating so many chances, allowing little at the back and choosing the right time to strike,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“The goal wasn’t even really our mistake, it was a strange ricochet. We had a few errors, but that was understandable in the current circumstances.
“The only regret is that it didn’t end 2-0, but I gladly hold on to this performance.”
A star is born with Zaniolo, who had never scored in the Champions League before, yet became the youngest ever Italian to bag a brace in both the modern and old iterations of the tournament.
“Let’s give everyone the credit. I think the lad must be allowed to grow. I told him to keep playing with his head, as a goal can take you out of the game and create enthusiasm that is distracting, but he not only focused, he scored a second.
“We have a player with immense talent and we are very glad to have him here.”
It’s a world away from the 7-1 Coppa Italia defeat to Fiorentina only a couple of weeks ago.
“You can grow with great failure too, as it helps you to learn and mature. We could’ve done without losing 7-1, it shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Now we must try to get everyone back on side with performances like this.
“I am very happy, as some of the players were in positions they were not accustomed to in a 4-3-3, but they timed everything very well and we intercepted their passes for Yacine Brahimi.
“I was a midfielder, so I know it’s hard work, but it pays off if you want to be effective when defending as well as attacking.”
The second leg is at the Estadio do Dragao on March 6.
“I can say the worst mistake we could make in the second leg would be to defend or protect the lead. We saw today the slightest incident can change everything. I tell the lads and the fans too that balance is important, but the only people who don’t make mistakes are the ones who don’t do anything. There are going to be errors, that’s how you grow.”