Ljajic Spares Roma’s Blushes, Torino Hold Palermo

Roma needed two late goals from Adem Ljajic to deny plucky Sassuolo a historic victory in an Italian Serie A match at the Stadio Olimpico. The Giallorossi rested talismanic captain Francesco Totti with Wednesday’s crucial UEFA Champions League showdown with Manchester City in mind and the capital club missed his leadership as Sassuolo snaffled two early goals in the 2-2 draw.

Simone Zaza scored both, first capitalising on Morgan de Sanctis’ goalkeeping gaffe and then beating the Roma stopper from a close encounter only minutes later. Daniele De Rossi’s dismissal shortly after the break spelled doom for Roma but they rallied to cut the deficit through a Ljajic penalty 12 minutes from time.

As the seconds ticked away, the Serbian rifled a last-gasp leveller before Sassuolo defender Sime Vrsaljko saw red to rub salt in the visitors’ wounds. Given the fact leaders Juventus were held to a goalless draw by Fiorentina on Friday night, an opportunity to close the gap to a single point passed Roma by, and they remain three points off the pace.

Struggling Torino twice fought back to force a 2-2 draw at home to Palermo but the Stadio Olimpico club remain without a victory in their last seven games. Josef Martinez’s first goal in Granata colours cancelled out Luca Rigoni’s opener before Kamil Glik responded to a clever finish from Paulo Dybala, who has now scored for Palermo in each of his last five appearances.

The point does little to soothe the pain still felt by Torino in the wake of their cruel derby defeat to Juventus, but it does mean they have a three-point cushion above the bottom three. Palermo, meanwhile, climbed to 11th in the table.

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