Roma coach Vincenzo Montella stayed upbeat after his team's elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.
The Italians lost 3-0 in Donetsk as the Ukrainians progressed for the first time to the last 16 of the competition with a 6-2 aggregate win.
"We leave the competition with our heads held high," Montella said. "Before the game I asked my players to be consistent and improve aside from the result. I think my players took a big step in that respect."
He added: "I'm happy with the performance of my team as, until we went a man down, we created a great deal and had a good approach against a fine squad.
"We had five or six shots on goal in the first half, then the red card changed everything. You cannot play at certain levels down to 10 men for 50 minutes."
With the Italians trailing 1-0, Roma striker Marco Borriello had a penalty saved and shortly after team-mate Philippe Mexes was sent off.
Despite those incidents, Montella, who replaced Claudio Ranieri at the helm of Roma earlier this month, was satisfied with his team's showing.
"My team went out for the win," Montella said. "I see a group that is united and that is why we cannot be demoralised.
"When I took over, the team lost determination during negative moments.
"Instead against Shakhtar, we were always solid and mustn't be downhearted, as we are on the right track."
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