AS Roma romp to Europa League hammering of De Zerbi’s Brighton

Daniele De Rossi's dream start to life on the AS Roma bench continued in Europe as the Giallorossi made light work of Premier League side Brighton with a 4-0 first-leg hammering.

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STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): If there is a way to stop Daniele De Rossi‘s swashbuckling AS Roma, Roberto De Zerbi and Brighton & Hove Albion would love to hear it. The Giallorossi coach’s stunning start to life in the job continued with a thunderous 4-0 Europa League last-16 first-leg win over the Premier League side on Thursday night in front of a giddy, euphoric sell-out crowd.

Goals from Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku before the break got the party started before Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante struck to all but guarantee the Giallorossi a quarter-final spot as they look to avenge last year’s penalty shootout defeat to Sevilla in the final.

While the Premier League side, making their European debut this season, squandered chances of their own that they will rue, it is also true that a more clinical night from Lukaku in particular could have made the margin of Roma‘s victory even more emphatic.

 

AS Roma Europa League
AS Roma players celebrate. [@OfficialASRoma]

De Zerbi was labelled a “genius” by his friend De Rossi ahead of the game, but it was the inexperienced Giallorossi boss who emerged with all the credit as his side romped to an eighth win in 10 games under his leadership.

Not for the first time under DDR, Roma started with intent and should have been in front inside three minutes when Lukaku‘s header from six yards was palmed over the bar by Jason Steele.

The keeper almost undid his hard work when a sloppy pass out was intercepted and let Lukaku flash a shot wide, but the Seagulls were next to threaten when the lively Simon Adingra went on a weaving run into the box and had a deflected shot cannon back off the post.

Roma‘s breakthrough arrived in the 13th minute with an expert dismantling of De Zerbi‘s high line, as Leandro Paredes pinged a wonderful pass from deep inside his own half into the path of Dybala, who rounded Steele to finish.

Dybala Roma Europa League
AS Roma’s Paulo Dybala. [@OfficialASRoma]

The offside flag went up immediately to the disappointment of a bubbling Olimpico, but heads weren’t down for long as a VAR review overturned the decision.

Mile Svilar stuck out a quick boot to deny a Danny Welbeck header, but Roma were otherwise in control and had a decent chance to double their lead when Lukaku headed over from another good Leanoardo Spinazzola cross.

But if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. After three chances came and went, Lukaku made the fourth count on the brink of half-time when he pounced on a poor touch from Dunk on a long ball and fired into the bottom corner.

One more warning did arrive before the break though, again created by Adingra as the winger hung up a cross for Welbeck that required a smart reflect stop from Svilar.

The SpinazzolaLukaku combination threatened again early in the second half, but Steele was again alert to push away a header, while at the other end Welbeck could only slice wide at the end of a promising counter-attack.

Mancini Roma Europa League
AS Roma’s Gianluca Mancini scores against Brighton in the Europa League. [@OfficialASRoma]

With the game still in the balance, Roma seized control in a five-minute period midway through the second half, starting when a cleared corner was fed back in by Stephan El Shaarawy for Mancini to knock in at full stretch.

Soon after, Brighton‘s defence fell apart as Roma hit them with a quick attack, El Shaarawy again the provider as his cross was headed home by Cristante.

Brighton still pushed for a goal to give them something to take back to the south coast of England for the second leg next week, with Tariq Lamptey having a goal-bound shot blocked by Spinazzola and Lewis Dunk firing over from the edge of the box.

But it was another night for the Roma faithful to bask in their admiration of a team that De Rossi appears to have unchained with 11 goals in their last three matches alone.

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