We wasted time and should've believed more! – Di Francesco angry after Roma fall short
Eusebio Di Francesco refused to dwell on two unsuccessful penalty appeals as the Roma head coach pointed the finger at his players and their lack of belief after losing to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.
Roma huffed and puffed but fell short despite their 4-2 second-leg victory on Wednesday – Liverpool advancing to the Kiev showpiece against Real Madrid 7-6 on aggregate.
The Italian side faced an uphill task in the Eternal City, where Roma entered the match trailing 5-2 following last week's absorbing opening leg at Anfield.
Roma came within just one goal of forcing extra time at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to Radja Nainggolan's late brace but it was too little too late for the hosts, who were left aggrieved with the officials.
Sporting director Monchi led calls for the video assistant referee (VAR) to be introduced in the Champions League after he felt Roma were denied two penalties in the Italian capital, where Edin Dzeko was wrongly flagged for offside before he was taken down by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.
Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold was also at the centre of a handball incident but Roma boss Di Francesco was left regretful and angry with his players.
"We have grown through this experience, but I have regrets because this team should've believed more in its chances, we could've had more goals and pushed Liverpool even more," he told Mediaset Premium.
"I am first of all disappointed at our exit and I tell the players well done, because reacting like that and putting Liverpool on the ropes was almost perfect in the second half.
"It'd be important for Roma to be protagonists in the Champions League again next season, but first we have to secure our place in Serie A. We've proved we can compete in the tournament after a journey that was not easy, but I am not going to settle for that. We can do more."
Emotions and occasions that will never be forgotten...
GRAZIE ROMA! pic.twitter.com/zTuvm3FOYt
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) May 2, 2018
Pushed on calls for the introduction of VAR, Di Francesco added: "I don't raise my voice with UEFA, that is for the club. I have to raise my voice with the players, who have to believe and push forward if there are a few minutes left and seek another goal. I have anger and even more regret, because I do believe we could've done it and we wasted time.
"We mustn't stand there arguing with the referee, he's not going to change his mind, so we just played into Liverpool's hands. That is what I can do something about and makes me angry.
"Obviously, 20-25 minutes from the end, a red card and penalty could've really had Liverpool on the ropes. However, we made mistakes too and those are what cost us."