Mon, Dec 08, 2014 - Page 18 News List

AS Roma held 2-2, miss chance to close on Juve

AP, MILAN, Italy

AS Roma’s Adem Ljajic, front, scores a penalty against US Sassuolo in their Serie A match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

AS Roma rallied from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw against US Sassuolo with a stoppage-time equalizer from Adem Ljajic, but missed the opportunity to close the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus on Saturday.

Ljajic, who got Roma back into the match with a penalty, snatched a point for the hosts with practically the game’s last kick.

After Juventus were held to 0-0 at ACF Fiorentina on Friday, Roma knew they could cut the gap to one point with a victory at the Stadio Olimpico, where they had won all seven of their previous league matches this season, conceding just two goals, but Simone Zaza scored twice in three first-half minutes — the first following a howler by goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis — and Roma’s chances diminished when Daniele de Rossi was sent off at the start of the second half.

Sassuolo defender Sime Vrsaljko was also sent off in stoppage-time following two yellow cards.

“We started badly, then it was only us in the game and we created a lot, but only managed a draw,” Ljajic said.

“We’re disappointed because of the standings, we had the opportunity to go a point behind, but the season is long ... and we’ll see at the end,” he said.

Roma remained three points behind Juve, while Sassuolo moved provisionally to ninth after extending their club record unbeaten run to eight league matches.

“We were a bit naive at the end, but Florenzi was offside for their second goal and the penalty was debatable,” Sassuolo coach Eusebio di Francesco said. “The rules state that it’s not a penalty if it touches the knee or a part of the body and then hits the arm.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Torino drew 2-2 at home to US Citta di Palermo to snap a run of three consecutive defeats.

Roma appeared to have half an eye on Wednesday’s crucial UEFA Champions League match against Manchester City, as Rudi Garcia rested a number of players, including captain Francesco Totti.

Gervinho, Douglas Maicon, Davide Astori and Radja Nainggolan also started from the bench, while Kevin Strootman got his first start since injuring his knee back in March.

Zaza returned from a one-match ban and gave Sassuolo the lead after a quarter of an hour. De Sanctis controlled a back pass, but was slow to clear, allowing the striker to pounce.

Zaza doubled his tally three minutes later when he beat the offside trap to race clear on goal and smash it past De Sanctis.

Roma’s Jose Holebas prevented Sassuolo from extending their halftime advantage when he slid in for a crucial tackle to prevent Domenico Berardi from tapping into an empty net.

Roma were given another lifeline when Gervinho’s shot hit Vrsaljko’s arm and Ljajic thumped the resulting penalty straight down the middle to reduce the deficit 12 minutes from time.

Ljajic leveled when he rushed to fire in Alessandro Florenzi’s low cross.

In Turin, Palermo took the lead when Paolo Dybala rolled the ball across the edge of the penalty area for Luca Rigoni to lash into the far side of the net in the 16th minute.

Torino leveled in the 36th minute when Josef Martinez controlled Emiliano Moretti’s lob into the penalty area, before turning to net his first Serie A goal.

Palermo restored their advantage against the run of play, but in spectacular fashion two minutes from the break. Dybala controlled Achraf Lazaar’s pass with a back-heel flick over his head and fired past Jean-Francois Gillet from a tight angle for his fifth goal in as many matches.

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