AS Roma 4-0 Brighton: Seagulls put to the sword by impressive Giallorossi

Rome’s iconic Stadio Olimpico hosted the highly anticipated UEFA Europa League round-of-sixteen tie between AS Roma and Brighton on Thursday evening. After topping a group consisting of Marseille, Ajax and AEK Athens, the Seagulls were handed another exceptionally tough draw in their first-ever European knockout game.

ASR: Svilar; Spinazzola, Ndicka, Mancini, Çelik; Pellegrini, Paredes, Cristante; El Shaarawy, Lukaku, Dybala

BHA: Steele; Igor, Dunk, van Hecke, Lamptey; Groß, Gilmour; Adingra, Enciso, Buonanotte; Welbeck

Thunderous roars welcomed the two sides onto the pitch, and the palpable feelings of passion and excitement from the crowd were replicated by the players in the early exchanges as only three minutes into the tie, Roma forged a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Leonardo Spinazzola broke quickly down the left flank, well into the Brighton half. He remained relatively unchallenged, and the full-back utilised the space he was given by floating in a dangerous cross. Running to meet his delivery was Romelu Lukaku; the big centre-forward connected beautifully with a header, but his effort was tipped over the bar by Jason Steele. 

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Brighton retaliated immediately, and they too came close to opening the scoring. After some clever link-up play among the Brighton forwards, Simon Adingra broke down the left-hand side. The winger cut inside cleverly, firing a cross into the box. However, his pass was deflected, and the ball ricocheted off the woodwork and behind for a corner. 

However, just after the 10-minute mark, Roma put an end to the near misses, rounding off their strong start with a goal. Leandro Paredes dropped deep to receive the ball before playing an incisive pass through the Brighton defence. He found his fellow Argentine Paulo Dybala in behind, and the forward rounded the goalkeeper before placing the ball into an empty net. 

Despite a lack of European experience, the young Brighton team did grow into the fixture. Danny Welbeck was presented with a couple of golden opportunities in the first half, but the former England international saw his headers saved by the impressive Mile Svilar.

Those saves proved to be pivotal, as the hosts delivered a gut-wrenching blow shortly before half time. After a long ball from Roma was mis-controlled by Lewis Dunk, Romelu Lukaku drove powerfully towards the Brighton penalty area. The Brighton captain was unable to rectify his mistake, and the Belgian forward doubled Roma’s lead with an expertly placed shot. 

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The half-time break looked to be useful for the English team, as De Zerbi’s men controlled the opening phases of the second period. Adingra was an ever-present threat down the left-hand side, and he created yet anoter chance for Welbeck. After receiving the ball just into Roma’s half, he turned and dribbled quickly towards the opposition goal. Just before he reached the 18-yard box, Adingra slid a well-weighted pass towards the Brighton striker, but Welbeck lost his balance, and his shot was wayward as a result. 

Similar to the first half, Brighton were made to regret their missed opportunities. Following a headed clearance from a Roma corner, Stephan El Shaarawy delivered a pacy cross towards the back post. There wating was an unmarked Gianluca Mancini, who, with an outstretched leg, managed to guide the ball past Steele for Roma’s third. 

But the misery did not end there for Brighton. Less than five minutes after he had assisted Roma’s third, El Shaarawy found some space in a dangerous position down the left flank. With the outside of his boot, the winger cleverly manoeuvred the ball into the middle, where he found yet another unmarked player. On this occasion, it was Bryan Cristante who was hurtling towards the end of the cross, but the result was the same. The midfielder headed the ball forcefully past a helpless Steele, sending the packed Stadio Olimpico into a frenzy. 

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The score did not deter Brighton; they continued to probe forward, but as all great Italian teams do, Roma managed the game perfectly. They appealed for every throw, every goal kick, every foul, and disrupted Brighton’s flow until the final whistle. The tie is played over two legs, so all hope is not lost for the Seagulls, but overcoming a four-goal deficit against a team in tremendous form will certainly not be an easy task.