Tuesday January 20 2015
Garcia defends penalty decision

Rudi Garcia insists Roma should “have faith in the referee” after beating Empoli in the Coppa Italia with a contentious penalty.

Replays show Piotr Zielinski went into a sliding tackle on Leandro Paredes and got to the ball first, but referee Di Bello pointed to the spot at the 114th minute.

“You can see that he cuts down his legs, then it’s difficult to tell whether it was before or after he got the ball. I think the referee was in an excellent position to judge, as he was only five metres away, so we should have faith in his judgment,” Garcia told Rai Sport after viewing the footage.

“In any case, I don’t want to talk about referees and incidents. Can we talk about football, please?”

Many Giallorossi supporters, fan sites and even the Rome-based Corriere dello Sport admitted this was not a penalty, but Garcia remained adamant.

Even without that spot-kick, Roma were forced to extra time at the Stadio Olimpico by a reshuffled Empoli side after drawing 1-1 in 90 minutes.

“In the Coppa the important thing is qualification. We know that if you don’t double your lead, there is always the risk of a counter-attack.

“We knew Empoli were a very irritating team for their opponents and we had many chances, but didn’t finish them well. At the end of the day, despite extra time, we qualified.

“We are in good shape and played 120 minutes, but need to improve in attack and score more goals. Empoli are a solid team, although other than the goal I don’t recall any other scoring opportunities.

“I am happy with the approach, but we should’ve been more consistent. We used a new system and need to work on this too.”

Garcia was asked about Mattia Destro, who has been heavily linked with a move away after complaining at his lack of playing time.

“If a big offer arrives then I don’t know what the President will decide. No player is untouchable. I hope that deadline day comes quickly, as I’ve already had to say 10 times that Mattia will stay here.

“Do I like Jovetic? Yes, the same way I like Aguero, Dzeko, Nasri and any other Manchester City player.”

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