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Roma hunger feeds Spalletti belief

Luciano Spalletti lauded the performance of a side playing "without the burden of pressure" as AS Roma fought back to draw with Manchester United FC.

Roma centre-back Philippe Mexes vies with Louis Saha
Roma centre-back Philippe Mexes vies with Louis Saha ©Getty Images

Luciano Spalletti lauded the performance of a side playing "without the burden of pressure" as AS Roma fought back from a goal down to claim a share of the spoils against Manchester United FC in Group F. The Giallorossi coach reserved special praise for goalscorer Mancini and debutant Antunes before heading off for a post-match glass of wine with counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson. The United manager singled out two of his own starlets – Wayne Rooney and Nani – while praising the performance of a young team swept aside in the English league Cup by second-tier side Coventry City FC the last time they were blooded.

Luciano Spalletti, Roma coach
We played well. Some of my players, without regular games, were handed a difficult assignment playing at the Stadio Olimpico against a team like Manchester United. The result was not important. I saw a few good things and in the second half there was some spectacular play but that's to be expected considering the quality of players on the pitch, especially as everybody played without the burden of pressure. Regarding the draw I will accept any team we are drawn with. At this level it will be difficult however we get. I'm sure Roma will do well regardless of the opponents though.

I have always had faith in Mancini, which is demonstrated by how many games he has played so far this season. Mancini scored a beautiful goal and was unlucky not to score more. He can cause any defence trouble with his runs. I'm also happy for Antunes. He did not feel pressure on his debut and played a very good game. He has a great left foot.

Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager
With both sides already through it was a big opportunity to give a chance to some of our young players. It was also important to rest a few lads ahead of the game against Liverpool [FC on Sunday]. The young lads are improving fast and working hard. The League Cup defeat by Coventry was a shock but they had not played enough before it. Tonight they did very well, especially in the first half.

Wayne Rooney proved he deserved the captain's armband tonight: it took 20 minutes for him to get into the match but then he played very well. As regards to Nani, he is only 19 but he is an important player for the future. He is every useful every time he plays. Now I will have a good glass of wine with Mr Spalletti.