Roma ran a few risks, but will be more than happy with a 3-0 Europa League Round of 16 first leg win over Shakhtar Donetsk with Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stephan El Shaarawy and Gianluca Mancini goals.
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The Giallorossi used Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a False 9 against his former club, because Edin Dzeko was not 100 per cent fit and Borja Mayoral required rest. The Ukrainians dropped into this tournament from the Champions League, where they beat Real Madrid and finished ahead of Inter in the group.
Gonzalo Villar almost scored the opener with his hip after six minutes, his deflection on a corner squirming in at the near post until Anatolii Trubin clawed it off the line.
After several attempts, Roma finally got the timing right with Pedro’s through ball, as Lorenzo Pellegrini sprung the offside trap, took a touch and prodded it under the on-rushing goalkeeper with the outside of the right boot.
However, Shakhtar almost equalised moments later when Dodo was in acres of space to roll across and Pau Lopez rushed out to parry with his chest at the feet of Junior Moraes from six yards.
Mkhitaryan attempted a lob when Trubin slipped during a goal kick, but it sailed over the empty net. The Armenian hurt his right calf during that chance and had to make way for Borja Mayoral.
Roma came very close to a second, Bryan Cristante’s header from a corner inches wide of both the far post and Marash Kumbulla.
After the restart, Pau Lopez had to fingertip a Tete angled drive round the post, then another shot from the same player on the counter was deflected over by Gianluca Mancini.
Shakhtar were far more aggressive and stepped up a gear after the break, but Stephan El Shaarawy should’ve scored with his first touch when scuffing the finish as it was rolled across from the right.
Borja Mayoral did even worse, as his first touch was dismal when sent clear by Leonardo Spinazzola after a Bryan Cristante cross-field pass.
Shakhtar also threatened, Pau Lopez needing a save from close range on Junior Moraes after Ismaily pulled back from the by-line.
El Shaarawy made up for the earlier error with a fantastic solo effort. He started the run from the centre-circle, cut inside between two defenders and dinked the finish over Trubin from 10 yards.
Roma were suddenly running riot, as El Shaarawy went clear on another Pellegrini pass only for his lob to be fingertipped over the bar.
On the resulting corner, Cristante flicked it on at the near post for Gianluca Mancini’s header from point-blank range and 3-0.
Roma 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Pellegrini 23 (R), El Shaarawy 73 (R), Mancini 77 (R)
Roma: Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Kumbulla; Karsdorp, Diawara (Ibanez 79), Villar, Spinazzola (Bruno Peres 79); Pellegrini (Perez 78), Pedro (El Shaarawy 61); Mkhitaryan (Borja Mayoral 35)
Shakhtar Donetsk: Trubin; Dodo, Vitao, Matviyenko, Ismaily; Marlos (Marcos Antonio 88), Maycon, Alan Patrick (Solomon 79); Tete (Konoplyanka 88), Junior Moraes (Dentinho 76), Taison (Sudakov 79)
Ref: Dias (POR)