Totti returns but Roma lose ground on Juventus

16 December 2013 11:01

Francesco Totti ended his two-month injury absence for Roma but had to settle for a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw away to Milan, who had Sulley Muntari to thank for a late leveller at the San Siro on Monday.

Roma travelled to struggling Milan looking to close the gap on leaders Juventus to three points after the Serie A champions had opened up a six-point gap with an eighth consecutive win on Sunday.

But despite bossing Milan in almost every department, Roma had to settle for their fifth draw in six matches to remain second, five points behind.

"I'm happy with the performance but not the result because we were in front twice," said Roma coach Rudi Garcia, who steered his side to a Serie A record of 10 opening wins at the start of the season.

"When you have so many chances on goal, normally you win. We should have scored a third. But taking a point at Milan is not so bad."

Despite Milan's domestic struggles, they remain Italy's sole representative in the Champions League after exits by Juventus and Napoli last week.

And after batting away questions about their last 16 opponents Atletico Madrid, coach Massimiliano Allegri said: "We played well technically in the second half, we were braver and took the game more to Roma even though it left us more exposed to counter attacks."

Roma started brightly and opened the scoring before the quarter hour through Mattia Destro, only to be pegged back by a Cristian Zapata leveller on the half hour.

The visitors restored their lead on 51 minutes when Kevin Strootman scored from the penalty spot but Milan were handed a lifeline when Muntari made the best of Mario Balotelli's pass to beat Morgan De Sanctis on 77 minutes.

Roma's Ivorian striker Gervinho looked particularly lively in the opening period and forced Christian Abbiati to save down low at his near post inside 10 minutes.

But it was from Strootman's run down the left that Roma opened their account, Destro sliding in unchallenged to slot the ball home on 13 minutes.

It was Milan's 114th anniversary on Monday, but there was little to celebrate as the hosts struggled for rhythm against a well-oiled Roma side and Gervinho's lightning runs.

However against the run of play Milan found the breakthrough from a corner, Zapata meeting Muntari's header with a bouncing header of his own to beat De Sanctis on the half hour.

Roma thought they had restored their lead a minute later but Michael Bradley's effort from a tight angle bounced off the goalline.

Destro threatened again just before half time but Milan's blushes were saved by a timely tackle from Daniele Bonera.

Abbiati failed to appear for the second half and was replaced by Gabriel, who after seven minutes failed to stop Strootman's spot kick after the 'keeper ran out and fouled Gervinho on the edge of the box.

Totti replaced Destro in the 64th minute and the Roma veteran was immediately involved in the build-up which saw Bradley head just wide from six metres out.

Until then, Milan had not looked likely to score an equaliser. But in the 77th minute Muntari made the best of Balotelli's lay-off to the right on the edge of the area to beat De Sanctis down low to the keeper's left.

The goal revived Milan and after penalty claims were waved away, when Mattia De Sciglio's cross into the area was chested down by Nicolas Burdisso, De Sanctis did well to punch out Balotelli's fierce free kick after Montolivo had been upended.

Both Balotelli and Gervinho had chances to snatch a win at the death but after turning his marker in the box Balotelli's tame left-foot shot went wide of the target and Gervinho's effort went just wide after he had sidestepped Bonera.

Source: AFP