AS Roma were held 0-0 on Sunday at AC Chievo Verona as the capital side’s title hopes took another blow in a Serie A match which was marred by a gruesome injury to youngster Federico Mattiello.
The 19-year-old Mattiello, who is on loan at Chievo from Juventus, was stretchered off in tears after breaking his leg in a clash with Radja Nainggolan. He underwent surgery later on a broken tibia and fibula.
It was Roma’s eighth draw in nine league matches and left it eight points behind Juventus, who were due to host US Sassuolo yesterday.
SSC Napoli remained four points behind after squandering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Inter.
“The team was poor and even if we had played for two or three hours we might not have scored,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. “They say there are encouraging defeats and troubling victories. This was a troubling draw. This is perhaps the first time since I’ve been here that I can’t recognize my team. We were in quite a positive spell, but I’m shocked by the negativity of this match. However, the blackest point today was the injury to Mattiello and my main thoughts are with him.”
SS Lazio could move level with Napoli if they were to beat ACF Fiorentina yesterday.
“We played a great game up until going 2-0 up against an Inter side with great players who can make the difference,” Napoli coach Rafa Benitez said. “The team gave its all on the field. We have to give credit to Inter, as at that stage they had nothing to lose. We created so many scoring opportunities and didn’t take them.”
Crisis-hit Parma, who were bailed out by the rest of the Serie A clubs on Friday, played again after postponing two matches. The financially-stricken club drew 0-0 at home to Atalanta BC in Edy Reja’s first match in charge of the visitors.
There were banners displayed at the stadium against owner Giampietro Manenti, as well as the Italian soccer federation and league.
Elsewhere, Empoli continued their push for survival as they drew 1-1 with Genoa to extend their unbeaten run to six, while Udinese came from behind to beat Torino 3-2 and end their opponents’ 12-match unbeaten streak.AC Cesena drew 0-0 with US Citta di Palermo.
Mattiello was injured in the 16th minute at Verona and video images from the game showed the bottom half of the midfielder’s right leg bending.
Mattiello was carried off to a standing ovation from the fans and the benches off both teams. It was only his third appearance for Chievo after joining from Juventus in January, but he has impressed and was regarded as one of Italy’s most promising players.
Players from both teams were visibly shaken by the injury and the match took a while to get going again after the restart.
Roma should have taken the lead at the end of the first half following a great counterattack from Juan Iturbe, who found Gervinho. The Ivory Coast midfielder raced down the right, but his effort scraped the outside of the far post.
Chievo also had chances, with Valter Birsa firing wide from a good position and Roma goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis twice denying Riccardo Meggiorini.
It was a valuable point for Chievo, who moved six points away from the relegation zone.
Napoli were looking to close the gap on Roma to two points and appeared on course to do so after taking a seemingly comfortable lead.
Marek Hamsik headed in Henrique’s cross six minutes after the interval, before Gonzalo Higuain doubled Napoli’s advantage shortly after the hour mark with a stunning curled long-range strike into the top corner.
It was the Argentina forward’s first league goal since a brace against Genoa on Jan. 26.
However, the match turned on its head 18 minutes from time when Rodrigo Palacio pulled one back after a series of close-range shots were charged down.
Inter leveled three minutes from time with a cheeky chipped penalty from Mauro Icardi after Henrique was shown a second yellow card and sent off for pulling down Palacio in the penalty area.
Icardi hugged Napoli goalkeeper Mariano Andujar after scoring.
“[The chipped penalty] was something which I had been thinking about for a while,” Icardi said. “Mariano is a goalkeeper who studies forwards and the way they hit the ball, I’m sure he’d seen my penalties. Luckily it went well. I know him, it’s awful for a goalkeeper to concede like that.”
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‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first