Roma had problems in the midfield but managed to escape with three points against Milan.
Roma made a statement to the rest of Serie A by overcoming AC Milan 2-0 in an intense but irritating encounter at the San Siro that highlighted the Giallorossi's rugged streak more than the quality of their play.
Edin Dzeko's seventh league goal of the season, a wayward shot that was heavily deflected past Gianluigi Donnarumma by Alessio Romagnoli, completely changed the course of a game that had been moving in Milan's favour thanks to the intense pressing employed by the hosts. Roma's tails were up, and just five minutes later Alessandro Florenzi -- who up to that point had been poor and had fluffed a one-on-one with Donnarumma when set through by the impressive Lorenzo Pellegrini -- was being mobbed by his teammates after tapping in his first Roma goal since scoring in the Rome derby 546 days ago.
Out of the blue, Eusebio Di Francesco's charges had a huge three points in the bag from what was possibly their worst league display of the season so far. How Milan didn't capitalise more on a truly bizarre performance from right-back Bruno Peres is a mystery, while Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio had to be at their best to hold off Milan when Roma's midfield struggled to deal Milan's pressing.
A better performance will be needed against Napoli after the international break, but Roma will happily take these three points and run.
When Roma lost Kevin Strootman to the 10th muscular injury to hit them this season it looked like things weren't going their way, but Pellegrini was if anything an improvement on the Dutchman. However, Sunday's win was about the resilience and solidity of this Roma team, and that was down in large part to the way Manolas and Fazio marshalled the defence, which blocked a third of Milan's 17 shots and made sure that goalkeeper Alisson had little to deal with.
Regardless of how well Pellegrini played, losing Strootman is a blow to Di Francesco, who has a big list of injured players and a game every three or four days to manage. The way Roma struggled to construct much going forward will also be a concern, especially with Chelsea and rampant Napoli coming up after the international break.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Di Francesco seems keen on maintaining his 4-3-3 formation no matter what, and this led to Milan's five-man midfield dominating Roma's three-man variant for large tracts of the game. He was forced to move Pellergini into Strootman's place and otherwise kept changes to a minimum, with the final two substitutes Juan Jesus and Gerson coming on with the game won.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 6 -- Was there when needed, with one smart save from Leonardo Bonucci a particular highlight.
DF Bruno Peres, 3 -- Constantly out of position, faffing on the ball and all over the shop one-on-one. A horror show.
DF Kostas Manolas, 7 -- Always on hand to clear the danger. Nothing spectacular, but effective.
DF Federico Fazio, 8 -- Barely put a foot wrong all night. Commanding and calm.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 6 -- Didn't let Fabio Borini bother him unduly, but didn't show any of his recent form going forward.AC Milan AS Roma 0 2 FT Game Details Live football odds with bet365. Bet Now » Highlights GameCast Lineups and Stats
MF Kevin Strootman, 5 -- Off after less than half an hour with a thigh injury. Made little mark on the match before that.
MF Daniele De Rossi, 6 -- Like Radja Nainggolan, really suffered in the face of Milan's pressing. Solid, but struggled to build play and drive his team forward.
MF Radja Nainggolan, 6 -- His burst forward and fine shot led to Florenzi's winner, but he spent long tracts of the game suffocated by Milan's pressing.
FW Alessandro Florenzi, 6 -- Gets an extra point for bagging the winner, but this was not a good display.
FW Edin Dzeko, 6 -- Spent much of the game arguing with the referee before his goal loosened him up.
FW Stephan El Shaarawy, 5 -- Dominated by Borini. That's former striker Borini playing at right-back.
MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, 7 -- The best of Roma's midfield. Only poor finishing from Florenzi denied him a superb assist.
FW Gerson, N/R -- Smooth and silk in place of El Shaarawy.
DF Juan Jesus, N/R -- Had absolutely nothing to do in the four minutes afforded him.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_DaleyComments