STADIO SAN SIRO (Milan) – AC Milan‘s supremacy meant that the result was never really in doubt as they comfortably defeated AS Roma 3-1 on Matchday 20 of Serie A to open up a significant gap to fourth-placed Fiorentina, with the Viola now eight points away.
It was unsung hero Yacine Adli who paved the way for the Rossoneri. A mature display in midfield saw him break the deadlock early on with a precise finish that allowed the hosts to get the Giallorossi under control after a tricky start.
The opener was followed up by Olivier Giroud‘s 10th Serie A goal of the season in the second half, before a Leandro Paredes penalty sparked Roma‘s hope of a late comeback. Those, though, were eventually dashed by Theo Hernandez smashed in a fine Milan third late on.
Roma‘s poor run of form continued as Jose Mourinho‘s side fell to their third defeat in the last five Serie A games, having won just once in the process. That run sees them fall to ninth in the Serie A table.
Adli’s brilliance earns Milan the breakthrough
AC Milan put intense pressure on Roma‘s ball carriers from the very opening exchanges, with a block of four Rossoneri’s offensive players aggressively pouncing on their opponents as they moved the ball across the back.
For a moment, it looked like Roma could overcome that first high press and pose problems for Milan, but after their attempted crosses were dealt with by the hosts’ defence that feeling faded fast.
The Rossoneri quickly became an established presence inside Roma‘s half as they tried to pack the final third with bodies and that resulted in the early opener. Adli brilliantly faked a right-footed effort from the edge of the box to beat his marker before placing a precise low drive into the bottom corner with the opposite foot to give his side the lead after 11 minutes.
Having found a breakthrough, Stefano Pioli‘s side opted for a more relaxed attitude in an attempt to invite the Giallorossi on and to leave spaces they could exploit on the break and it was exactly what happened when Theo Hernandez‘s attempted cross fortuitously came off the post.
However, it was Roma who claimed a huge chance shortly after as Mehmet Celik‘s diagonal shot was crucially turned away by Mike Maignan. But the visitors’ attacks looked rather improvised and often involved direct balls to Romelu Lukaku, hoping that his brilliant hold-up skills would be enough to create something.
The Giallorossi tried to make up for their lack of offensive spark through some long-range efforts, but Paredes fired over the bar while Leonardo Spinazzola forced a save from Maignan.
Paredes’ penalty not enough
Lorenzo Pellegrini replaced the booked Gianluca Mancini at the start of the second half, a choice that arguably highlighted an attempt to give more support to both Lukaku and Stephan El Shaarawy up front.
Matteo Gabbia incredibly headed a Theo cross wide from a good position, but he didn’t even have the time to rue the missed chance before Giroud headed home on the end of a Simon Kjaer assist.
A Roma penalty from nowhere gave the visitors a lifeline though, when Davide Calabria naively fouled Lorenzo Pellegrini inches inside the box. Paredes made no mistake from the spot, sparking insecurity in a Milan side that had been in full control until that moment.
Noah Okafor and Yunus Musah coming on late in the game provided the hosts with the extra energy they were starting to lack and the changes allowed them to start holding onto the ball again.
Theo put all his physical brilliance on display as he carried the ball a great distance to complete a one-two with Giroud before smashing in off the underside of the crossbar.
His striked wrapped up Milan‘s third consecutive Serie A win, with Musah then hitting the post, but there was to be no way back for Roma from there.
This victory keeps AC Milan in third place and they go up to 42 points now, eight clear of Fiorentina in fourth. Meanwhile, AS Roma drop to ninth place after this defeat.