Roma proved doubters wrong in topping tough Group C, says Di Francesco
Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco took delight in upsetting the doubters after his side progressed to the Champions League knockout stages as Group C winners.
Diego Perotti's lone goal in a 1-0 win over Qarabag proved enough for the Serie A side to finish above Chelsea courtesy of a superior head-to-head record.
Roma took four points off the Premier League champions and were only beaten once, away to Atletico Madrid, in qualifying for the last-16 for the second time in three seasons.
They will now be seeded for Monday's draw as they attempt to reach the quarter-finals a decade after their last appearance.
"It was a great victory, a difficult one, especially as I have no Champions League experience," Di Francesco told Mediaset Premium.
"It is satisfying because nobody believed we could qualify at all, they assumed we would be eliminated, but we worked hard, proved ourselves and won the group.
"After half-time the team certainly expressed itself better, but we got a little nervous at the end, perhaps because Roma are unaccustomed to succeeding in Europe.
"We can do better. I always keep a positive attitude, both on and off the field."
2 - AS Roma have finished at the top of their Champions League group for just the second time (the other was in 2008/09). Top. #RomaQarabag-- OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 5, 2017
Perotti, who made the breakthrough with a close-range header in the 53rd minute, echoed his coach's sentiments.
"It is a wonderful moment for us," the Argentine said.
"When the draw was made, nobody believed in us, but we worked hard and I think we deserve this first place. It was tough tonight, as Qarabag were sitting back and acting as if they had something to play for.
"We were patient, as these games can be dangerous, but we kept our heads and fought together for the goal. Now we are going to enjoy it."