Valverde on Roma’s win and dressing room reactionApril 11, 2018
Ernesto Valverde has discussed his side’s Champions League exit to Roma on Tuesday evening, saying the dressing room has been deeply affected.
Kostas Manolas scored a late header to complete a remarkable comeback victory for Roma over Barcelona and send the Italians into their first European Cup semi-final in 34 years.
Barcelona, who led 4-1 after the first leg, conceded first when striker Edin Džeko poked home, and went further behind after captain Danielle De Rossi’s converted penalty, before defender Manolas flicked home the decisive goal.
Džeko punished the visitors after controlling De Rossi’s long ball and slotting home instinctively to give his side hope after only seven minutes played.
Striker Patrik Schick nearly added a second, but he nodded a header just wide after being left unmarked in the box, and then came close again with a stabbed effort which was heroically thwarted by Gerard Piqué.
In the second half, Roma won a penalty when the impressive Džeko was hauled down by Piqué after a powerful run into the opposition area, and De Rossi confidently dispatched the resulting kick from 12 yards.
The climax arrived when Greek centre-back Manolas arrived at the near post to delicately glance home a header following a Cengiz Ünder corner to send the home fans wild.
“We can only keep our heads up because there’s no other way,” Valverde told reporters.
“They had a great game, they overcame us and we have to congratulate them. We weren’t able to play our game and the dressing room has been very affected, although it’s normal after a defeat like this.
“We have to recover because we’re still in two competitions, which we want to win. Everything went well for them and we were never able to get into the game.
“They took us out of our comfort zone, they took us to where they wanted to be and we were never comfortable.
“We were very excited and I know that our fans were as well. We’re especially sorry for them and the disappointment.
“That’s football and I can’t criticise my players for anything. They deserve a lot of credit and we weren’t as good as we usually are. We have to give them credit.
“Do I feel responsible? Absolutely, the Coach is responsible for everything. I’m the one who picked the team, made changes, prepared us for the tie… Everything. He’s the visible head of the team.”
Barcelona now turn their attention back to the league and Copa del Rey, where they will meet Sevilla in the final later this month.