Jose Mourinho said Roma deserved to pay for a “horrible” first-half performance in Wednesday’s surprise 2-1 Coppa Italia quarter-final defeat against Cremonese.
Cremonese – who are without a win in Serie A this season – took a two-goal lead in Rome through Cyriel Dessers’ penalty and Zeki Celik’s own goal, before holding on after Andrea Belotti pulled one back late on.
Having also stunned Napoli in the previous round, Cremonese became the first promoted Serie A side to reach the Coppa Italia’s final four since Cagliari in the 2004-05 campaign.
Mourinho made a remarkable quadruple substitution at half-time after storming down the tunnel early, and he said the Giallorossi could have no complaints following their dire start.
“Congratulations to Cremonese. They have achieved two great victories against Napoli and Roma, it’s a strange cup that favours small teams, they have even more merit for this,” he said.
“They are deservedly in the semi-final, we pay for a horrible first half, of a low level.
“I can say that this squad struggles with rotation, with three matches in a week, but let’s think about this single match, and in the first half we deserved to pay the price.
“Football is like this, this happens with the top teams and with the smaller teams. In Naples [in Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Napoli] we deserved more and for this I was proud, even after the defeat.
Si vola in semifinale!! #RomaCremonese –#SolAmAi #ForzaGrigiorossi #DaiCremo #CoppaItalia pic.twitter.com/c1fbVdg7sC
— U.S. Cremonese (@USCremonese) February 1, 2023
“Today I can’t say, others can comment. My job is to think about the next game.
“After more than a thousand games as a coach, I prefer to be objective and say that we played badly and we paid. We are a team and I don’t want to make a single person responsible.”
Mourinho was also asked about Nicolo Zaniolo, who asked to be welcomed back into the fold via an open letter on Wednesday after requesting a move during the January transfer window.
Having described the likelihood of Zaniolo remaining at the Stadio Olimpico as “unfortunate” last week, Mourinho was unwilling to discuss the 23-year-old’s future, saying: “The ownership was very clear and I won’t make any kind of comment.”
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