Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Roma slip five points below leaders Juve with 2-2 Milan draw

Reuters, ROME

Sulley Muntari salvaged a point for AC Milan with a second-half equalizer that saw his team draw AS Roma 2-2 at the San Siro on Monday and push the visitors five points behind Serie A leaders Juventus.

The return of Francesco Totti after two months out was not enough for Rudi Garcia’s still unbeaten Roma, who are on 38 points and three clear of third-placed SSC Napoli. Massimiliano Allegri’s Milan are 10th on 19 points.

Roma twice allowed Milan to mount effective counterattacks and rally from a goal down, with Muntari leveling the score for good in the 77th minute after taking Mario Balotelli’s pass and firing home at the near post.

Mattia Destro tapped in the opener when delightful play from Adem Ljajic and Kevin Strootman saw the Dutch midfielder slide an unmissable chance to the attacker.

Destro’s second goal in as many games put Roma 1-0 up in the 13th minute.

Cristian Zapata then equalized against the run of play in the 29th when he met Muntari’s flick on from a corner with a clumsy header onto his knee and past Morgan De Sanctis.

Strootman restored Roma’s advantage from the penalty spot five minutes after the break when Gervinho was floored by Milan goalkeeper Gabriel Ferreira.

With Roma looking to kill off the match in the second half and Totti coming on for Destro, Milan hit back and could even have snatched the victory had Balotelli not dithered and dragged a weak shot wide in added time while in a promising position.

“Usually, when you have lots of goal-scoring opportunities you win, but it’s a point at Milan, it’s not a bad thing,” Garcia told reporters.

“But when you go in front twice you need to be better in defence. We made some mistakes but I’m happy with how we played, we looked good out there,” the Roma manager added.

“We know that the only [Italian] team that qualified from the Champions League group stage was Milan and you don’t do that with a bad team, you do it with a good team,” he said.

While the Giaollorossi dropped precious points, they will be looking to the clash at Juventus right after the mid-season break on Jan. 5 to apply pressure on their Serie A title rivals, providing that Atalanta BC do not spring any surprises next weekend.

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