AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Roma coach Paulo Fonseca hailed his injury-hit side's resilience after their 2-1 away win over Ajax Amsterdam on Thursday pushed them closer to the Europa League semi-finals.
“Ajax has a great team, as we saw, but our boys have delivered a fantastic performance,” Fonseca told reporters after the 2-1 victory in the quarter-final first leg at Johan Cruyff Arena.
“The tie is still completely open, but this victory is very important to us.”
Roma were a goal down at halftime and then gave away a penalty early in the second half but it was saved by goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
That proved the catalyst for their comeback, with Lorenzo Pellegrini and Roger Ibanez scoring to turn the tie Roma’s way.
"I think our players realise that we are going through a difficult time and therefore gave everything,” added Fonseca referring to the club's injury woes, which were exacerbated by Lorenzo Spinazzola hobbling off in the first half on Thursday.
“After his injury it became even more difficult, but we knew we could always score goals here, we had that confidence even in the tricky phases.
“This is a great victory for us. It was a game full of excitement and intensity.
“We made it difficult for ourselves at times, but we controlled Ajax's attacks, even though they are one of the best teams in Europe from an offensive point of view.
"The most important thing is that we never let our heads hang down, we kept going and finally came up with a response,” Fonseca added.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Peter Rutherford)