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21 Jan 2014 - in: Coppa Italia

Conte: “An evenly matched affair”

The Bianconeri boss reflects on a tightly contested 90 minutes against the Giallorossi: “It could have gone either way”

Antonio Conte was in philosophical mood after witnessing his team narrowly edged out in this evening’s closely-fought Coppa Italia quarter-final against Roma in the capital.

The 44-year-old explained his decision to send out a changed line-up at the Stadio Olimpico and insists he is satisfied with how those who stepped into the breach fared in a testing atmosphere.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the final whistle, Conte began: “I thought it was a very evenly matched encounter between two teams who are both going strongly in the league. It could have gone either way.”

“We’ve always used the Coppa Italia as the opportunity to rotate the side ahead of upcoming fixtures because everyone needs to develop and feel important. I was happy with the performances of those who have played less this season.”

The match-winning goal, scored by Gervinho on 79 minutes, arrived when Juventus were in the ascendency and looking to silence the home crowd with a late strike.

And aside from the inevitable disappointment of exiting a competition at the quarter-final stages, Conte insists he is unable to point the finger at any of his players for tonight’s showing.

“Roma scored during our best spell of the game. We wanted to keep it tight in defence and cause danger when in possession. Perhaps we were a little cagey in the first half, but I don’t recall any particular moments of us being under the cosh. It’s a pity we’ve been eliminated from a competition, but I’ve got nothing to criticise the lads for.”