Roma eye Italy's Champions League spots with Sassuolo win

Roma eye Italy's Champions League spots with Sassuolo win

© AFP 2022
December 3, 2023 at 7:07 PM
Paulo Dybala Drew Roma level from the penalty spot at Sassuolo
Paulo Dybala Drew Roma level from the penalty spot at Sassuolo. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Roma closed in on Serie's A top four after coming from behind to win 2-1 at Sassuolo and move level on points with champions Napoli, who host Inter Milan in a huge title clash.

Paulo Dybala's 76th-minute penalty and a wildly deflected strike from Rasmus Kristensen shortly afterwards earned Roma the points from a scrappy match which Sassuolo finished with 10 men after Daniel Boloca was sent off in the 63rd minute.

Roma are fifth, trailing by goal difference to Napoli who sit in the last Champions League spot and need to win the weekend's headline match to reignite their title defence.

Inter will reclaim top spot from Juventus as long as they do not lose, while a win in Naples could also push Roma above Napoli and into fourth.

Jose Mourinho's team looked unlikely to get a result until Dybala squeezed in his third goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Romelu Lukaku had missed the best chance of the game for Roma 10 minutes before Boloca's red card when he shot straight at Andrea Consigli when all alone in front of the Sassuolo goalkeeper.

And the away side had a huge slice of good fortune with eight minutes remaining when Kristensen's effort clipped Ruan Tressoldi and looped over the despairing Consilgi the delight of the massed ranks of Roma fans behind that goal.

The draw at the Mapei Stadium came as Mourinho is reportedly being investigated by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) for saying that referee Matteo Marcenaro didn't "have the emotional stability to referee at this level" ahead of the match.

The Portuguese blasted both Marcenaro, 31, in a pre-match outburst on Saturday which the country's refereeing association said "could lead to violence" against officials.

However, Mourinho was backed by Roma on Sunday, General Manager Tiago Pinto saying that the coach "didn't insult anyone" and that the club hadn't been informed of any FIGC probe.

"We've never had him as a referee but we have had him as a fourth official in the past and he has always sent off someone from our bench," said Pinto.

"If a manager can't use the term 'emotional stability' then I don't know what it is we can say."

Fiorentina are a point behind Roma in sixth thanks to a simple 3-0 win over the division's bottom team Salernitana.

Meanwhile Bologna are a further point and place back after Roberto Piccoli's penalty in the 10th minute of added time cost Thiago Motta's team a 1-1 draw for Lecce.

Thomas Henry scored his first goal for Verona since August last year to snatch a 3-3 draw in the seventh minute of stoppage at fellow strugglers Udinese.

Frenchman Henry has been restricted to short appearances off the bench this season after tearing knee ligaments in January.

But after coming on with six minutes remaining and his team trailing he glanced home a perfect header to move his side one point from safety and two behind Udinese, who sit 16th.

© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022