Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was delighted to prove his doubters wrong, as a 1-0 win over Qarabag secured top spot for the Giallorossi in Group C of the Champions League.
Diego Perotti’s second half header was enough to see the Italian outfit leapfrog Chelsea and qualify at the expense of favourites Atletico Madrid. This was despite suggestions that the Lupi might struggle to emerge from such a seemingly difficult group.
However, three victories and two draws from six matches were enough to see them go into the Round of 16 as group winners, and Di Francesco was quick to lavish praise on his side.
“It was a great victory, especially as when the draw was made in August many people already had us down as eliminated,” the former Sassuolo coach told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I am extremely satisfied, the team have show such determination since the opening match against Atletico Madrid. That was a match that we suffered in, but it was the beginning of this great journey in the group.
“All credit must go to the team, not myself. I just tried to give them the right ideas, I wanted to get into the players’ head and I think I succeeded. There is still much work to do, but I always believed in this qualification,” Di Francesco concluded.
Victory over Qarabag, coupled with Chelsea’s draw at home to Atletico Madrid, sees Roma top their group in the Champions League for the first time since 2008/09.
The Giallorossi will be joined by second-placed Chelsea, whilst Atletico, finalists in two of the past four seasons, must settle for the Europa League.