HT: Milan lead Roma in thriller

Franck Kessie’s penalty has given Milan the half-time lead away to Roma, but it has been an extraordinary end-to-end game with crossbars rattled, goals disallowed and big misses.

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This was a head-to-head for the top three places, with both teams fatigued after Thursday’s Europa League exploits. With Chris Smalling, Roger Ibanez, Davide Santon, Edin Dzeko and Nicolò Zaniolo injured, plus Marash Kumbulla ready at best for the bench, it was again a makeshift Giallorossi defence. The Rossoneri missed Ismael Bennacer and Mario Mandzukic, but Stefano Pioli decided to drop Alessio Romagnoli following recent poor performances, starting Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori.

Milan started strong, Zlatan Ibrahimovic forcing a save in the opening minutes, then on the resulting corner a mad scramble eventually saw Tomori put the ball in the net after he wandered offside.

Ibrahimovic caught Pau Lopez napping on a Federico Fazio back-pass, but then tried to back-heel it into the open goal and turned wide, when Hakan Calhanoglu was waiting for the assist.

Moments later, another horrible error in the Roma back line sent Ante Rebic clear, but instead of shooting, he rolled across for Ibrahimovic, who was offside.

Rebic took the initiative instead next time, forcing Pau Lopez to fingertip it round the far post, but on 22 minutes Roma finally threatened with Jordan Veretout’s volley straight at captain Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Simon Kjaer rattled the frame of the goal with a towering header on Calhanoglu’s corner, as Pau Lopez was well beaten and the marking poor.

However, at the other end, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a goal disallowed for Gianluca Mancini’s push as he knocked on the corner.

Veretout also wanted a foul and at least a yellow card when going down on the edge of the box under pressure from Tomori, but the referee waved play on.

Pau Lopez had his gloves stung by a Rebic rocket and Alexis Saelemaekers first-time shot from 10 yards, then Tomori and Sandro Tonali used themselves as human shields on Lorenzo Pellegrini and Mkhitaryan, as it was end-to-stuff.

Mkhitaryan should’ve scored, as he was not offside on a Rick Karsdorp assist, saw Donnarumma off his line and tried the lob, but it flashed wide.

VAR was called into action when Federico Fazio trod on Davide Calabria’s foot right on the line of the penalty area. That qualifies as part of the box, so the spot-kick was given and Franck Kessie converted.

Roma 0-1 Milan (Half-Time)

Kessie pen 43 (M)

Roma: Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Fazio; Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Borja Mayoral

Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Tonali, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic

Ref: Guida