Roma held to draw for fourth straight game in Serie A


Roma were held to their fourth successive Serie A draw, but reduced the arrears on league leaders Juventus to six points with a 1-1 result against Empoli. Massimo Maccarone scored from the penalty spot for Empoli after Kostas Manolas was sent off in the 37th minute. Riccardo Saponara was also shown a red card on the stroke of half-time as both sides ended the game with 10 men. Maicon levelled just shy of the hour mark, but Roma could not find a winner and could find themselves nine points adrift at the top of the table if Juve win at Udinese. Empoli have won many admirers this season for their attractive brand of football and they displayed no fear of showing it at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening. Twenty-three points may have separated the two sides coming into this game, but for the first half hour, it would have been easier to predict that Empoli were that far ahead of Roma, such was the difference in quality. It was anything but the kind of performance one might expect from the Giallorossi, and they could have no complaints at going into the break a goal behind. That goal arrived from the penalty spot after Manolas fouled Saponara as he was preparing to shoot with only Morgan De Sanctis to beat. The result was a red card for the Greek defender and a chance which Maccarone took, driving the ball emphatically to the left of De Sanctis. Roma's uphill struggle to recover was levelled off slightly for them in first-half stoppage time when Saponara was shown a second yellow card for handball. The transformation in Roma was evident from the opening exchanges of the second half with Maicon looking particularly inspired, finding space down the right that was not there in the first half. He wanted a penalty in the 52nd minute when he cut inside and went to ground, but while he did not get that, he did get the equalising goal five minutes later when he was again left completely unmarked to stroke the ball into the far corner with his weaker left foot from Miralem Pjanic's pass. Davide Astori's header grazed the top of the crossbar and Radja Nainggolan had a few sighters as Roma searched for a winner. They risked losing it, though, when another penalty could justifiably have been awarded to Empoli when Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa charged Manuel Pucciarelli, but the referee this time waved play on. In the end, Rudi Garcia's side lost the energy to persist with both sides having to settle for a draw – Roma's sixth in their last eight games.