Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan feels the Giallorossi could have been 4-0 up at half-time in their play-off first leg with Porto but praised their resolve following Thomas Vermaelen's red card.
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Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan said that UEFA Champions League play-off opponents Porto will be obliged to attack when the teams meet for a second time in six days in the Italian capital on Tuesday.
Speaking to UEFA.com shortly after the Giallorossi's 1-1 draw at the Estádio do Dragão in the first leg, the Belgian international expressed his disappointment that Roma had failed to transform their first-half momentum into a bigger lead.
"At half-time it could have been three or 4-0," said the 28-year-old. "We created a lot of chances but scored just once." That goal came from Porto defender Felipe, who inadvertently deflected past Iker Casillas midway through the opening period. Edin Džeko and Mohamed Salah missed subsequent chances prior to the dismissal of Thomas Vermaelen before the break – a game-changing moment.
"In the first half, when it was 11 against 11, we were the better team," said Nainggolan. "But then at 1-0 we got a red card so in the second half so we needed to defend a lot. It's always difficult to play in these stadiums when the other team is going on the attack."
Luciano Spalletti's side made a decent fist of suffocating Porto's admirable second-half revival, though, restricting them to just André Silva's 61st-minute penalty.
"In [Rome] they have to score," said Nainggolan. "We need to defend solidly and play our game, but we have it in our own hands. We defended well [in the first leg] and we are in a good position going into the next game."
Roma do not begin their Serie A campaign – at home to Udinese – until Saturday. "We just need to get better physically, but that's normal after the first game of the season," said Nainggolan. "I'm happy that everyone battled as a team and for the result. There was a lot of motivation and we played a lot of good football in the first half."