Soccer-Ten-man Roma beat Milan to set up Europa League semi-final with Leverkusen


Soccer Football - Europa League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - AS Roma v AC Milan - Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy - April 18, 2024 AS Roma's Gianluca Mancini scores their first goal past AC Milan's Mike Maignan REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

ROME (Reuters) -AS Roma beat AC Milan 2-1 at a buzzing Stadio Olimpico on Thursday to complete a 3-1 aggregate win and set up a semi-final showdown with Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.

Defender Gianluca Mancini, whose 17th-minute header had helped Roma edge Milan 1-0 at the San Siro last week, gave them another early lead in the quarter-final second leg, scoring on a rebound from close range in the 12th minute.

Paulo Dybala doubled the advantage for the hosts 10 minutes later with a curled shot inside the far post before Matteo Gabbia pulled one back for Milan five minutes from time, nodding home a cross from forward Rafael Leao.

Last season's runners-up Roma, who were beaten on penalties by Sevilla after a 1-1 draw in the final, advanced to their fourth European semi-final in a row.

They will next face the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Leverkusen, who beat West Ham United.

Roma started off confidently and captain Lorenzo Pellegrini hit the post from outside the box before Mancini grabbed a rebound to score the opener.

Milan's Ruben Loftus-Cheek came close to levelling when he hit the bar minutes later but the visitors' worst nightmare became reality when Dybala made it 2-0 soon after.

Striker Romelu Lukaku raced to win the ball on the right flank before his pass towards front of the goal was cleared by Milan defence but ended at the feet of Dybala who made no mistake slotting home.

However, Roma lost Lukaku to an injury in the 28th minute before they were left with 10 men in the 31st when defender Zeki Celik was sent off for a challenge on Leao.

This resulted in both coaches making tactical changes before the break with Stefano Pioli introducing striker Luka Jovic in place of midfielder Ismael Bennacer for Milan and Daniele De Rossi took off Dybala to beef up Roma's defence with Diego Llorente.

Milan had more possession following halftime and their attacks intensified but Leonardo Spinazzola could have made it 3-0 for Roma after a solo run, before his low effort was saved by goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Jovic then struck low from around the penalty spot but was denied by Roma keeper Mile Svilar.

Gabbia's late goal sparked little hope for Pioli's side, who are now winless in three games across all competitions.

For Roma it was only their third victory in the last 15 matches against Milan, the other two a 2-1 Serie A home win in October 2019 and last week's triumph in the first leg.

The semi-final first legs will be played on May 2 with the second leg following a week later. The final will be held on May 22 at Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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