AS Roma wins the first act of the Europa League match against AC Milan

Defender Gianluca Mancini scored again and confirmed, after the goal that decided the Rome derby, his danger in the air play.
AC Milan v AS Roma: Quarter-Final First Leg - UEFA Europa League 2023/24
AC Milan v AS Roma: Quarter-Final First Leg - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Both teams entered this interesting match, valid for the first leg of the UEFA Europa League, in excellent shape and results. In fact AC Milan consolidated its second place in the Italian championship while AS Roma, after the dismissal of Josè Mourinho and the arrival of Daniele De Rossi as technical guide, rose up in the standings to fifth position, almost close to the useful positions to access the next edition of the UEFA Champions League.

The start of the match was characterized by an immediate aggressive start by the visiting team who kept the ball in search of an opening in the offensive zone.

For their part, AC Milan was unable to implement effective high pressing so much so that they suffered greatly from the distances between the defenders' lines and that of the midfielders.

In these large spaces, found or created by the movements of Stephan El Shaarawy and Leonardo Spinazzola as well as by the banks of Romelu Lukaku, two of the most brilliant of the match, Paulo Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini, were able to dialogue with remarkable technical precision.

After this first favorable wave for the Giallorossi, the Rossoneri presented themselves in attack for the first time with a long-range shot from Dutch midfielder Tijjani Reijnders, which was blocked by goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

In the following action the Giallorossi took advantage of the home team's high defense and attacked the depth with a progression by Lukaku, perhaps starting from an offside position when he received the pass but without the linesman detecting anything.

The Belgian striker then put the ball in tow of his teammates and El Shaarawy's shot, deflected by his opponent, was transformed into a very insidious shot on which goalkeeper Mike Maignan made a prodigious intervention putting the ball out for a corner.

From the corner kick in the 17th minute, came the goal that gave the away team the lead.

Exactly as it happened in the recent derby between Roma and Lazio, defender Gianluca Mancini was once again decisive.

The reaction of the AC Milan players was immediate as they moved forward in search of the equalizing goal.

Again on a corner kick.

French striker Olivier Giroud attempted a headed shot twice and the presence of Lukaku on the goal line proved invaluable on both shots.

The Belgian striker in fact rejected it decisively to avoid the equalizer.

Subsequently, Rafael Leao tried to make himself dangerous, after a very disappointing first half hour of play , with an acrobatic shot which was also blocked by the opposing defenders.

The Rossoneri, in search of a goal, became unbalanced and in the final minutes the Giallorossi tried to strike on the counterattack.

First with El Shaarawy who looked for Lukaku in the center of the penalty area but the trajectory was well read by a low exit from Mike Maignan.

Afterwards, AS Roma had another opportunity to score the second goal with an individual play by Leonardo Spinazzola who dribbled past Davide Calabria and rushed towards the penalty area without managing to finish positively on goal.

A first half therefore ended which showed a lackluster AC Milan and a truly determined AS Roma with clear ideas.

Rafael Leao
Disappointing performance from AC Milan star Rafael Leao who never proved dangerous in the attacking area / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

The second half resumed immediately with a shot, again from outside, by Reijnders which was blocked by the goalkeeper Svilar.

The Rossoneri, however, did not show speed in their movements or other offensive solutions that would make it possible to see a different attitude in the second half from the home team's players.

Then it was the away team that took control of possession.

A play by Dybala, who freed himself from the marking, finished towards the goal finding goalkeeper Maignan prepared for a comfortable save.

At the end of the first hour of play, coach Stefano Pioli made the first change, bringing in midfielder Yacine Adli in place of Ismael Bennacer.

AS Roma reached an interesting conclusion twice with two different players.

The first shot was made by captain Lorenzo Pellegrini while the second attempt was made by Bryan Cristante.

However, both shots ended wide of the target.

Subsequently, on a corner kick, it was the Frenchman Theo Hernandez who headed the ball but was unable to find the net.

Shortly after, substitute Yacine Adli attempted a cross which became a shot and risked surprising Svilar, who reacted to recover his position and deflect it out.

In the last minutes of the match, the Rossoneri undertook a sort of siege.

Therefore, Pioli decided to include fresh resources.

So the offensive wingers Samuel Chukwueze and Noah Okafor came in and took the place of Christian Pulisic and Rafael Leao, respectively.

In particular, the latter was the author of a terrible game, without any particular ideas in the offensive zone.

Roma coach Daniele De Rossi also made tactical changes with the clear aim of strengthening his rearguard so as to resist the insistent final attacks and maintain the precious one-goal lead.

In the 87th minute, Chukwueze made an irrepressible play on the right side, dribbling past two opponents and managing to penetrate to the back line. He provided an assist for Giroud who wasted it from a few steps away by hitting the crossbar.

Despite the Rossoneri's final insistence on finding the equalizer, the above was the only truly interesting opportunity.

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While waiting for the return leg, Pioli will have to study new moves to face a team that has shown excellent defensive solidity, thanks also to the return to defense of Chris Smalling.

While Daniele De Rossi, with this great victory for his team, confirmed his skills as a coach by managing to buffer the strengths of the Milanese team.