Roma miss chance to catch Juventus with draw at Palermo


Roma missed the chance to draw level with Serie A leaders Juventus after being held to a 1-1 draw at Palermo. Paulo Dybala bolstered his growing reputation as a clinical goalscorer by firing the Rosanero ahead inside two minutes and Roma struggled to react until Mattia Destro levelled shortly after half-time. Francesco Totti was unleashed from the bench with 10 minutes remaining but he could not follow up last weekend's derby brace against Lazio with another vital goal. The point guides Rudi Garcia's men to within two of Juve, who will hope to respond by pulling five clear with a home victory over mid-table Hellas Verona on Sunday evening. Roma's night did not start well as within only two minutes they had fallen behind to Dybala's opener. The Argentinian, reportedly a transfer target for Manchester United, notched his 10th goal of the season by capitalising on Davide Astori's defensive error to easily beat Morgan De Sanctis from a one-on-one. Roma tried to reply immediately but Miralem Pjanic's attempt to volley home Alessandro Florenzi's parried shot missed the mark. Palermo were giving nothing away and it was not until the half-hour mark that Destro managed to find the space to collect Adem Ljajic's through ball and worry Stefano Sorrentino. The Sicilians might even have taken a two-goal lead into the break but Edgar Barreto's well-struck attempt to find the top corner was clawed away by the quick-thinking De Sanctis in the 39th minute. Roma had failed to register a shot on target in the first half and were frustrated in that quest when play resumed, Destro nodding Jose Holebas' cross just over the bar. The Giallorossi were looking more aggressive, though, and they got their reward in the 54th minute. Kevin Strootman was best placed to make contract with Pjanic's free-kick from deep and the Dutchman pushed the ball into Destro's path for the striker to score his fifth of the season on the slide. Palermo bit back through Barreto, who picked out Dybala and forced De Sanctis to race off his line to deny the in-form hitman at his near post. Garcia introduced both his veteran captain Totti and 18-year-old debutant Daniele Verde for the final exchanges, but the older half of the new-look striker partnership would not mark the evening with another celebratory selfie as the spoils were shared.