Serie A title hopefuls Roma struck a blow to AC Milan’s own plans to recapture past glories by beating the new-look Rossoneri 2-0 at San Siro on Sunday.
A full-strength Milan team boasting the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva and Hakan Calhanoglu — the Turkey midfielder was later sent off — could not resist a gritty attacking display from Roma, who struck twice in the second half through Edin Dzeko and the fit-again Alessandro Florenzi.
Dzeko grabbed his eighth goal of the season in all competitions when breaking Gianluigi Donnarumma’s resolve and expansive wing-back Florenzi promptly doubled Roma’s advantage with his first league strike in almost 18 months.
Although it is still early in the season, both clubs have established their targets and have suffered similar knocks to their respective ambitions.
Expensively revamped Milan have not beaten all comers with a team now captained by Italy defender Bonucci, who was criticised by his head coach, Vincenzo Montella, after the defeat at Sampdoria, and a return to Champions League football looks far from certain.
Roma, again targeting the title, look more ready to excel but in their first high-profile match, against Milan’s city rivals Inter, they were comprehensively beaten.
After starting slowly they enjoyed the first opportunity at San Siro. When teenage goalkeeper Donnarumma made a poor pass, Kevin Strootman was there to seize possession and should have done better with his attempt on goal.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross then found Florenzi but Donnarumma blocked, with Milan breaking back as Franck Kessie slipped in from the left wing to fizz a shot just past a post.
Roma suffered a blow which could have long-term consequences when Strootman went down hurt after a clash with Federico Fazio. After several minutes of treatment the Dutch midfielder, who has previously missed great swathes of games due to injury, was withdrawn for Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Visiting boss Eusebio Di Francesco might not have wanted to make that early change but his first-half substitute livened things up and, shortly before half-time, he almost got the better of Donnarumma with an angled left-footed drive.
The former Sassuolo player was causing trouble after the hour mark, too. Playing in Florenzi, not long back in the team after a cruciate ligament injury, Pellegrini almost saw his assist darted beyond Donnarumma — but the young stopper prevailed.
Alisson had been relatively quiet at the other end but was called into action when Nikola Kalinic controlled the ball before taking aim at a bottom corner.
Milan were not about to take the game by the scruff of the neck, though. Instead Roma were about to take the lead and in the 72nd minute Dzeko did so thanks to a helpful deflection off Alessio Romagnoli that took Donnarumma out of play.
Five minutes later Roma were two up after Donnarumma parried Radja Nainggolan’s fierce shot into the path of Florenzi for an easy tap-in.
Milan’s woe was not at an end as there was still time for Calhanoglu to earn a red card by eliciting his second yellow for a heavy foul on Nainggolan.