Roma 4-0 Brighton: Roberto de Zerbi suffers a nightmare return to Italy as his side unravel in HORROR defeat that leaves their Europa League hopes in tatters
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Roma 4-0 Brighton: Roberto de Zerbi suffers a nightmare return to Italy as his side unravel in HORROR defeat that leaves their Europa League hopes in tatters

Apr 12, 2024
  • Brighton conceded four goals in the first leg of the Europa League knockout tie
  • Roberto de Zerbi fumed as his side were dominated in the Italian capital
  • Is Trent Alexander-Arnold playing mind games with Man City trophy dig? It’s All Kicking Off podcast

Like all roads, Brighton‘s led them to Rome whereupon resistance faltered, they conceded four and must now confront the bitter end first European campaign.

Roberto de Zerbi‘s team saved some of their worst for the big occasion. They produced flashes of their creative flair but were wasteful in front of goal. At the back they were painfully fragile, easy to penetrate and strewn with errors in the face of Roma’s intensity.

Daniele de Rossi promised to match his friend De Zerbi’s reputation for bold attacking football and Paulo Dybala gave them an early lead. Romelu Lukaku, who troubled Lewis Dunk throughout, pounced on a mistake to make it two, before Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante doubled the lead in the second half.

They came, they saw, they crumbled, to misquote Julius Caesar.

‘The only positive is that I lost against a friend,’ said De Zerbi. ‘Imagine what it would have been like to lose against someone I can’t stand. We lost deservedly to a better team who are used to playing these matches.’

On-loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku maintained his good run of form for Roma

On-loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku maintained his good run of form for Roma

Roberto de Zerbi endured a nightmare return to Italy as Brighton suffered a 4-0 defeat against a rejuvenated Roma side

Roberto de Zerbi endured a nightmare return to Italy as Brighton suffered a 4-0 defeat against a rejuvenated Roma side

Brighton's defence was torn to pieces by Roma's attack as they slumped to a 4-0 defeat

Brighton’s defence was torn to pieces by Roma’s attack as they slumped to a 4-0 defeat

MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS 

Roma 433: Svilar 7; Celik 7, Mancini 7, N’Dicka 7, Spinazzola 7.5 (Llorente 82); Cristante 7, Paredes 7 (Bove 72, 5), Pellegrini 7; Dybala 7.5 (Baldanzi 72, 5), Lukaku 8 (Azmoun 88), El Shaarawy 6.5 (Zalewski 88).

Subs: Patricio, Boer, Karsdorp, Smalling, Azmoun, Sanches, Aouar, Baldanzi, Bove, Zalewski, Angelino.

Goals: Dybala 12, Lukaku 43, Mancini 64, Cristante 69

Bookings

Manager: Daniele de Rossi 7

Brighton 4231: Steele 5; Lamptey 5, Van Hecke 5.5, Dunk 4, Julio 6 (Estupinan); Gilmour 6 (Baleba 81), Gross 6; Buonanotte 5.5 (Veltman 75), Enciso 5 (Fati 46, 5), Adingra 6.5; Welbeck 6 (Ferguson 81).

Subs: Verbruggen, McGill, Webster, Lallana, Moder, Baleba, Ferguson, Peupion, Baker-Boaitey

Goals

Bookings: Van Hecke, Lamptey

Manager: Roberto de Zerbi 6

Ref: Francois Letexier (FRA) 6

Att: 64,877

There is a second leg at the Amex Stadium next week but Brighton do not look like a team capable of delivering any more footballing miracles. They look like a team in need of a breather.

It has been fun, emerging as winners from a tough group of famous clubs and visiting some of the great venues of European football but there was little to savour in this fixture.

Two supporters were stabbed on the eve of the game. Thankfully, not seriously hurt. And, last night, bottles, coins and lighters rained into the away end forcing Brighton to issue a statement calling for immediate action.

‘Sad news and a special pain to me because it happened in my country,’ said De Zerbi.

Roma, last year’s beaten finalists with the Europa League in their sights again, came out bristling with intent, roared out by a ferocious home crowd. Lukaku almost found the net within three minutes, with a powerful header forcing a fine early save from Jason Steele.

Brighton lived dangerously in a breathless opening sequence but almost levelled when Simon Adringra jinked into the penalty, took aim and saw his effort strike defender Evan N’Dicka and deflect against a post.

Roma took the lead through Dybala, bursting clear onto a long pass out of defence, skipping past Steele and sliding the ball into an open goal from an angle.

An offside flag went up but Dybala had timed his run to perfection, he was just onside and VAR overruled to the delight of the home crowd.

Gianluca Mancini added a third goal in the second half against a struggling Brighton side

Gianluca Mancini added a third goal in the second half against a struggling Brighton side

Roma’s Argentinian striker Paulo Dybala scored the game’s opening goal in Italy

Defeat means Brighton are staring at an exit from the Europa League ahead of next week's return

Defeat means Brighton are staring at an exit from the Europa League ahead of next week’s return 

Brighton responded. Two Danny Welbeck headers, both from Adingra crosses, were kept out by Mile Svilar and, in between those saves, came Roma’s second of the night. The crucial goal, according to De Zerbi.

Dunk’s control deserted him under pressure, however, and Lukaku pounced, driving on and beating Steele with a confident and decisive finish at his near post.

Steele saved from Lukaku and Welbeck fired over on the break before Mancini turned in a cross at full stretch for the third. It looked offside, even on the replays but survived a VAR check. Cristante headed in the fourth from another cross from Roma’s left.

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