Luciano Spalletti believes Roma are “on the right track” despite suffering a 2-0 loss at home to Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.
The Italian side held their opponents at bay until Cristiano Ronaldo’s deflected shot in the 57th minute broke the deadlock at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma pushed hard to find an equaliser but were caught on the break in the closing stages, substitute Jese Rodriguez doubling Madrid’s lead just four minutes after coming onto the field.
Although his team now face a monumental task in the second leg in the Spanish capital, Spalletti still praised his players for their performance in defeat on Wednesday.
“I thought we had a great game in the second half, we just didn’t cause enough problems in midfield,” he told Mediaset Premium.
“Every time we won back the ball, we had the chance to keep possession as we had more in midfield, but if we let them have the initiative then in defence we do still allow too much in every game. Give Real Madrid a little, they’ll turn it into a lot.
“After scoring the goal, Real Madrid settled a bit, got more comfortable, and tried to control the game.
“I can only tell the team they did pretty well. Unlucky on occasions, there is work to be done, but we are on the right track.”
Spalletti – who was in charge of Roma when they knocked Madrid out of the same competition in 2008 – felt the reception from the home fans at full time showed how hard his team had worked during the game.
“Roma fans are accustomed to great players, great performances and great moments. If they applauded, it’s because they saw great effort and knew we were not rewarded for that effort,” he added.
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