Antonio Rudiger gave Roma an early lead, but Milan dominated the rest of the game and grabbed a 1-1 draw.
It was a desperate situation for both Coaches, who were hanging by a thread following poor midweek results. Edin Dzeko was suspended with Seydou Keita and Salih Ucan injured, while Mohamed Salah was only fit for the bench. The visitors missed Mario Balotelli, Alex and Jeremy Menez, but Alessio Romagnoli and Andrea Bertolacci faced their former club.
Milan had won just one of their previous six meetings with Roma, home and away, a 2-1 result at San Siro in May 2015. Their most recent victory at the Olimpico was a 3-2 thriller in October 2011.
It was an extraordinary start, as within 19 seconds Umar Sadiq pounced on a misplaced pass and stung the gloves of 16-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. The 18-year-old striker had two goals in as many Serie A games.
Roma started very strong and broke through when Miralem Pjanic’s free kick was volleyed in at the back post by unmarked Antonio Rudiger with the inside of his left foot.
Sadiq squirmed away from two defenders and set up Pjanic, but the Bosnian scuffed his shot wide. Rudiger almost completed his brace on 20 minutes, but the diving header from a corner was palmed on to the woodwork by Donnarumma.
Wojciech Szczesny rushed off his line to close down Carlos Bacca and Rudiger stuck out a long leg to stop Bertolacci going clear, as after that fast and furious start, Roma largely left the initiative to Milan.
On the stroke of half-time, Iago Falque aimed a weak finish too close to Donnarumma on a promising counter.
Leandro Castan replaced the injured Kostas Manolas, but Milan equalised when Keisuke Honda held up a cross for Juraj Kucka’s header at the back post.
The initiative remained with the Rossoneri and Lucas Digne twice anticipated Luiz Adriano in dangerous situations. Kevin-Prince Boateng made his Serie A comeback after two years and Szczesny had to smother at Bacca’s feet before Milan wasted a golden opportunity.
Boateng burst down the left, Bacca let the pull-back go through his legs and Kucka somehow ballooned over from eight yards. Mihajlovic was so furious he kicked a water bottle on the touchline, which is now a red card offence considered dissent.
It was all Milan now and Bacca’s curler smacked against the crossbar after the offside trap failed again. Gervinho and Bonaventura drilled wide, but the crowd went mad as Francesco Totti made his comeback four months after a hamstring injury.
There were deafening jeers at the final whistle, as this draw does little to help either side.