Ten-man Roma see off Serie A rivals AC Milan to book Europa League semi spot

By Sports Desk April 18, 2024

Roma’s 10 men held out to see off Serie A rivals AC Milan 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico and secure a place in the Europa League semi-finals.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, early goals from Gianluca Mancini and Paulo Dybala put the Giallorossi firmly in control of the tie.

Roma defender Zeki Celik was shown a straight red card after 31 minutes for sliding in on Rafael Leao, but AC Milan could not make their advantage count despite a late consolation goal from Matteo Gabbia.

Ahead of the match, Roma had confirmed head coach Daniele De Rossi would remain in charge for “the foreseeable future”, the former midfielder having overseen an upturn in fortunes since taking over in January after Jose Mourinho was sacked.

Mancini – whose goal had settled the first leg at the San Siro – opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini collected the ball just outside the box and curled a shot against the far post. Mancini was first to the rebound, knocking it in from 10 yards.

AC Milan went in search of a way back as Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s angled drive bounced up off the ground and deflected onto the crossbar.

Roma doubled their lead in the 22nd minute.

Romelu Lukaku showed great strength to barge past Gabbia and into the left side of the penalty area. Although the Milan defender recovered to stab Lukaku’s cross away, the ball fell to Dybala, who curled it into the far bottom corner.

Belgian forward Lukaku then sustained an injury and was replaced by Tammy Abraham in the 29th minute.

Roma found themselves down to 10 men just after the half-hour mark when Celik slid in on Leao as the Portuguese forward sprinted away down the left and was shown a straight red card by Polish referee Szymon Marciniak.

The visitors were soon claiming a penalty when the ball bounced around a crowded penalty area and looked to have hit Mancini on the hand.

However, after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, the referee ruled the ball had struck Olivier Giroud’s hand first.

Dybala was also forced off through injury just before half-time, with Diego Llorente coming on.

Roma, who have climbed from ninth to fifth in Serie A under De Rossi, were content to allow Milan plenty of possession but without really stretching the home defensive line.

The Giallorossi looked to hit Milan on the counter, with Leonardo Spinazzola played clear down the left but his low angled drive was pushed away by Mike Maignan.

On the hour, Leao then cut inside to pull the ball back for Luka Jovic but his shot from 10 yards was straight at Roma goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

Roma winger Stephan El Shaarawy got away down the right and sent in a cross which Abraham first tried to flick goalwards with a backheel – and then blazed the loose ball over.

Milan continued to struggle to down Roma before eventually scoring a late consolation when defender Gabbia headed in from Leao’s cross with five minutes left.

In stoppage time, Milan defender Theo Hernandez was initially sent off for a foul on El Shaarawy – only for the referee to overturn his decision after taking another look on the monitor and show a yellow card instead.

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