LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - AS Roma’s coach Eusebio Di Francesco said they lost their heads in the 5-2 defeat by Liverpool in their Champions League, semi-final, first-leg at Anfield on Tuesday but added that his team had to believe they could turn the tie around.
“We had an excellent start but then we lost our heads and the ability to stay in the game and so we got ourselves into difficulty,” he told reporters.
“We really weren’t good for 50 minutes and we lost all the challenges and duels and couldn’t even make simple five yard passes,” said the Italian whose team had been 5-0 down.
But two goals in the final nine minutes - an Edin Dzeko strike and a Diego Perotti penalty — gave Roma hope they could make an unlikely comeback at the Stadio Olimpico next Wednesday.
Di Francesco’s side had lost their quarter-final first leg 4-1 at Barcelona but advanced with a 3-0 win at home where they have not conceded a goal in this season’s Champions League.
“We have to believe for the return game. You have to believe because in football everything is possible, even if it will not be easy,” said Di Francesco.
“I don’t want to hear about ‘miracles’ because it is about believing in your work and what we do. It is going to be different from the Barca game, it will be tougher. But whoever doesn’t believe should stay at home,” he added.
Roma full-back Alessandro Florenzi said Liverpool had been close to finishing off the contest but the door was now open for a battle in the Italian capital.
“We lost our way after the opening half-hour and were practically dead, but they didn’t kill us off completely. With heart, grit and pride we were able to re-open a tie that had seemed finished,” he said.
“I can promise the fans that we’ll spit blood for this jersey and will play a very different match next week.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris