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 By Ben Gladwell

Thomas Vermaelen criticised by Roma boss Spalletti for red card on debut

Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen did not make it to half-time of his Roma debut.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti criticised new signing Thomas Vermaelen for getting sent off on his debut for the club in the 1-1 draw at Porto in the first leg of their Champions League playoff on Wednesday.

Vermaelen, 30, joined the Giallorossi from Barcelona last week but only lasted 41 minutes of his first match for his new side after receiving two yellow cards at the Estadio do Dragao.

Roma head into the second leg next week with a slight advantage due to their away goal, but Spalletti felt they would have had a more comfortable advantage had Belgium international Vermaelen not let the side down.

"An experienced player like Vermaelen should not be getting two cards like he did, especially when you look at the first one he got," Spalletti told Mediaset television. "But physically we saw that we are in good shape and the mistakes we made were only technical, so I'm satisfied.

"Personally I'm very happy with the attitude of my team -- we were in control of the game when it was 11 against 11. We've got to look on the bright side, which is substantial. We started with a good personality and I'm glad also to have seen the other side of my team, which showed resistance under pressure right to the end.

"The only criticism I can have of my team is that they should have dealt with certain situations better. We needed a bit more maturity rather than trying quick breaks which just saw us lose our balance in the process.

"We allowed Porto to play too much and picked up too many avoidable yellow cards and these caused us problems."

Roma will be looking to become only the second Italian club since 2009 to win a Champions League playoff when they welcome Porto to the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday. Only AC Milan succeeded in 2013 when they beat PSV Eindhoven, with Napoli and Udinese both beaten in the past two seasons.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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