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AS Roma goalkeeper Júlio Sérgio said he still had lots to learn despite another outstanding performance in the 2-1 defeat of FC Basel 1893 in Group E of the UEFA Europa League.
Brilliant second-half saves to deny Alexander Frei then Marco Streller helped the Giallorossi grab the three points they needed to qualify for the knockout stage while repaying the faith coach Claudio Ranieri has shown in the Brazilian between the Roman side's posts. "I have to learn more and talk less, but I'm happy because we put in a good all-round performance and we won," Júlio Sérgio said.
That victory owed much to the elasticity of the 31-year-old. Ten minutes into the second half with the score at 1-1, he twisted in the air to claw away a fine curling effort from Frei. Then with less than 20 minutes to go, he somehow managed to block Streller's point-blank shot. "I can never stand still," he laughed of the 71st-minute reaction save that preserved Roma's lead. "I just followed the ball, saw it wasn't going that fast and got my legs in the way. At the end of the day, the important thing was that we won."
Basel had opened the scoring through a close-range header from Benjamin Huggel before Francesco Totti equalised from the spot in the 32nd minute. After withstanding Basel pressure at the start of the second period, Mirko Vučinić concluded a superb passing move by striking a 59th-minute winner for the Serie A side.
Now a point ahead of Basel in Group E, Roma can confirm top spot by beating PFC CSKA Sofia in a fortnight when Fulham FC travel to Switzerland. "Sure, it will give us some advantage later to finish top but it won't be easy in Sofia," added Júlio Sérgio, who is staking a long-term claim to be Roma's No1 after continuing to keep Doni, who has recovered from injury, on the bench.
Next up though is another high-pressure confrontation - Sunday's derby against S.S. Lazio. "What can you say about the derby? We have to work in the next few days and do what we have to do," he said. "We have to try to do the same things we always do and be relaxed. We know it will be a very different game but we have to keep our feet on the ground."
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