Roma coach Fabio Capello said that his team could not recover from the early goal conceded to Ajax in the 2-1 Champions League defeat in Amsterdam last night.

Capello said: ‘It was a very difficult game for us because we came to try and win, but we conceded that early goal and it was very important. The psychological blow we suffered affected us and the rest of the match.

‘My players were slower, mentally rather than physically, and Ajax were able to fall back and defend against us. I think the fact that Roma did not play well was more due to this goal than anything else.’

But Capello refused to blame his goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli , who did not hold a shot by Steven Pienaar which gifted the opening goal to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Substitute Jari Litmanen added a second for the home side on 66 minutes before Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta pulled a goal back for Roma a minute from time.

Ajax coach Ronald Koeman was delighted with the result, which took his injury-hit team into second place in the group, level on points with leaders Arsenal.

Koeman said: ‘It is my job to be positive, but I think that also tonight we saw that football always throws up surprises for people.

‘I always knew it was possible to get this kind of result and I believed that, but it was still a surprise.

‘We had far fewer problems playing against Roma tonight than we had when we played Internazionale.’