Roma nullified Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez in a 1-0 win on Thursday, earning a first-leg advantage in the Europa League quarter-finals. Here are three talking points from the San Siro showdown.

Milan’s left wing went missing

As admitted by Stefano Pioli, Daniele De Rossi surprised Milan by playing Stephan El Shaarawy as a right winger and the Italy international diligently helped Zeki Celik where Milan would hurt more. Leao was the shadow of himself. He was never really dangerous, not even when he had space to sprint down the left. The link-up with Theo just didn’t work. The Milan pair looked disjointed and Leao was even booed when replaced in the final minutes. Theo woke up too late, creating a couple of promising opportunities in the final 15 minutes, but Roma were already defending inside the box, leaving little space for Milan strikers. Ultimately, DDR beat Pioli tactically and one of the keys was the ability to nullify Milan’s attacks down the left.

Player Ratings: Milan 0-1 Roma – Mancini flies again, Leao booed

Roma dominated the midfield

It is no news anymore that Lorenzo Pellegrini looks reborn under De Rossi, but the Italy international wasn’t the only key player in Roma’s victory at San Siro. Leandro Paredes put in a fantastic performance with 94% passing accuracy and several duels won. The Giallorossi were often in numerical advantage in the middle of the park and managed to keep tight lines to suffocate Ruben Loftus-Cheek and block Ismael Bennacer’s passing lanes. Paredes is another player who seems reborn under DDR, while Bryan Cristante completed the work in both phases but received a yellow card which means he’ll be suspended in the return leg at the Stadio Olimpico next week.

Smalling is back

The English centre-back nullified Olivier Giroud, leaving the France international only one chance, which he wasted in the final minutes, hitting the crossbar from an excellent position. Evan N’Dicka and Diego Llorente have done a decent job this season, replacing the former Manchester United defender during his lengthy spell on the treatment table. However, Smalling’s physicality and experience were crucial at San Siro and probably made many realise how much Roma has been missing him this term. The 34-year-old had only made seven appearances prior to last night’s match, starting four times. Still, he’ll be like a new signing for De Rossi in the final month of the season when Roma will be pushing for a top-four finish in Serie A and further Europa League glory.

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