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Roma all but eliminate Brighton from Europa League after 4-0 thrashing


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Roma put one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Thursday after hammering Brighton 4-0 as Daniele De Rossi dominated his good friend Roberto De Zerbi.

First-half goals from star pairing Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku gave Roma the platform for a convincing last-16 first-leg win over their Premier League opponents at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante completed the rout as Roma continued to love life after Jose Mourinho and with local hero De Rossi.

A thumping eighth win in 10 matches for De Rossi since replacing Mourinho in January has Roma all but in the last eight before next week's second leg in England.

De Rossi's coaching style is inspired by De Zerbi, who are close friends to the point that their daughters meet in London to watch Roma matches.

They will have been impressed with what Roma served up in front of their raucous support, who made a huge racket while their team racked up the goals.

Roma started off on the front foot and could have been ahead with less than three minutes on the clock when Jason Steele did brilliantly to keep out Romelu Lukaku's close-range header.

Lukaku scuffed wide shortly afterwards before Evan N'Dicka nearly handed Brighton the lead in the seventh minute by diverting Simon Adingra's cross onto his own post.

But Dybala did strike first blood for the hosts in the 13th minute - and it was a brilliant goal.

The Argentina forward raced through unopposed to meet Leandro Paredes' superb through ball before skipping past Steele and rolling home a finish which was initially ruled out for offside but then given after a VAR check to the delight of home fans.

Roma were much the better team, but Danny Welbeck twice forced excellent saves from Adingra crosses.

The second stop in first-half stoppage time made sure that Roma were two goals to the good at the break after Lukaku robbed Lewis Dunk and rammed home his second goal in as many games.

Welbeck sliced another good chance wide in the 57th minute, and seven minutes later, Mancini got on the end of Stephan El Shaarawy's inswinging cross to poke in Roma's third.

Brighton were reeling and Cristante gave De Zerbi's team a mountain to climb, heading home another pinpoint El Shaarawy cross at the end of a sweeping Roma move which highlighted the difference between the two sides.

Roma fans went through their song book and dreamed of getting to Dublin in May after already seeing their team get to European finals in the last two seasons.

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