Fonseca: ‘Roma just didn’t play’

Paulo Fonseca admits Roma “just didn’t play in the first half” of their 4-2 defeat to Sassuolo. “It’s difficult to explain the huge difference.”

The Giallorossi had been brimming with confidence after their strong performance in the Derby della Capitale, holding Lazio 1-1, but were 3-0 down at the Mapei Stadium within 30 minutes.

Edin Dzeko and a Jordan Veretout penalty opened it up again, but with Lorenzo Pellegrini sent off, Jeremie Boga thumped in an unstoppable strike for 4-2.

“I congratulate Sassuolo for a great performance and victory. Having said that, we didn’t play in the first half. We weren’t there. It’s difficult to explain the huge difference from this game and the performance against Lazio last week.

“We simply did not see Roma this evening. We did not play,” the coach told DAZN.

“This was a tough game, we know that if you allow Sassuolo to play, they have quality in attack and can move the ball quickly. I did not expect them to score pretty much every time they attacked.

“It’s difficult to explain our defending this evening. Perhaps we didn’t prepare in the right way mentally and I can’t understand what happened in the opening 45 minutes.

“I think the principle problem was when we started the high press, leaving a gap around Bryan Cristante. We also made mistakes individually, but our pressing was above all the issue to leave space in Cristante’s area, I found.

“If we play so well against Lazio and a week later do so badly here, it means that must be a mentality issue.”

Lorenzo Pellegrini was sent off for a second bookable offence in a game with a surprising number of yellow cards.

“I want to make it clear, I don’t blame the referee for our defeat, that is our fault, but I just don’t understand why he gave so many yellow cards this evening. I thought it was too harsh.”

Edin Dzeko was spotted talking to Fonseca after the final whistle. What did he say?

“Dzeko told me that I didn’t need to speak to the referee, as it was not the right moment to be angry with the official.”

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