FC Barcelona coach Carles Rexach praised Vincenzo Montella after his side's 3-0 defeat against AS Roma.
FC Barcelona coach Carles Rexach paid tribute to Vincenzo Montella after the striker was instrumental in his side's 3-0 defeat by AS Roma in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League Group B tie.
Montella arrived as a half-time substitute for Roma and his aggressive style was the decisive factor as Roma went all out for goals in the second period at the Olimpico stadium. "If I had a player like him, I would play him," said the coach.
Montella is immensely popular with supporters but has not always been a first-choice player for Fabio Capello's side. Supporters stood to give him a two-minute ovation as he came on to the pitch on Tuesday evening and he admitted after the game that their appreciation had lifted him.
'I have played well'
"That was fantastic and it really made me want to play well to honour the supporters," said Montella. "It was a great night and we couldn't have hoped for a better result. I have played well and I feel that I am an important player - but only as important as all of my team-mates."
Montella scored Roma's second goal of the evening with a sweet low finish which gave Barcelona goalkeeper José Reina no chance and finally killed off the visitors' hopes of a dramatic comeback. The forward is now hoping that victory at the Olimpico stadium will be the foundation for a place in the quarter-finals.
'The goal felt good'
"The goal felt good," said the striker. "All important goals feel good and I really wanted to score tonight. I think our team is one of the best in Europe but it would be a big mistake to think that we have already qualified." Montella also feels Galatasaray SK, Roma's next opponents, "will be hard to beat".
Montella's coach was delighted with his side's second-half performance after a subdued first period saw the two sides cancel each other out in Rome. "That was good for us," said Capello. "We are top of Group B and top of Serie A so we are very happy and motivated. We started playing tactically but we played much more aggressively in the second half. 3-0 against Barcelona is an important result - it is important for everybody in the team."
'What can you say?'
Barcelona coach Rexach offered no excuses for what was a disappointing Barcelona performance. "When you lose 3-0 what can you say?" he said. "You can't say it was bad luck. Roma played better football than us and deserved to win. We tried to come back after we went a goal behind but we couldn't. It happens. That's football and we lost. I still think we are one of the two favourites to qualify [from the group] but now we have to beat Liverpool [FC]."
Barcelona host Liverpool in a game that could decide whether they reach the quarter-finals. If both Roma and Barcelona win their games, both sides will reach the next stage of the competition.