AC Milan, Roma managers still under pressure after 1-1 draw
ROME (AP) — A 1-1 draw between AC Milan and Roma in Serie A on Saturday likely did little to alleviate the pressure on managers Sinisa Mihajlovic and Rudi Garcia.
Antonio Rudiger put Roma in front with a volley four minutes in at the Stadio Olimpico and Juraj Kucka equalized early in the second half.
Roma remained fifth, five points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan, which hosts Sassuolo on Sunday. Milan moved up to provisional sixth, five points behind Roma.
Mihajlovic and Garcia have been criticized for poor results, with local media already speculating over possible replacements.
Roma entered the season as a title contender but is facing a battle to get back into the Champions League places after winning only one of its last seven matches.
“I’m giving my all for this job,” Garcia said, lamenting a sharp drop in performance from the first to the second half. “We switched off physically, mentally, and technically, and that can’t happen at this level. ... We need continuity.”
Mihajlovic, in his first season at Milan, has produced little more than previous managers Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi did for the seven-time European champion.
“Apart from the opening 10 minutes, we should be proud of how we played,” Miahjlovic said. “We deserved to win. ... We just haven’t been lucky enough considering all that we’ve created.”
Earlier, developing forward Keita scored an impressive goal as Lazio won 3-1 at Fiorentina to deny the Tuscan squad a chance at taking the provisional lead.
Fiorentina remained one-point behind Inter and level on points with Napoli, which visits promoted Frosinone on Sunday.
Lazio, which also beat Inter at the San Siro before the holiday break, moved up to ninth.
Also, promoted Carpi beat visiting Udinese 2-1 to move within two points of escaping the relegation zone.
In Rome, Rudiger redirected a free kick from Miralem Pjanic for his first goal in Serie A.
Rudiger had a chance for another but 16-year-old Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a diving save and pushed the German’s shot away off the post.
Kucka’s equalizer came with a header following a lobbed cross from Keisuke Honda.
Kucka then missed a great chance to put Milan ahead after taking a cross from Kevin-Prince Boateng, after which Miahjlovic was expelled for kicking a water bottle in anger at the missed chance.
With Milan taking charge momentarily, Carlos Bacca banged a long shot off the crossbar.
Roma substitutes Gervinho and Francesco Totti, making his first appearance since injuring his right hip in September, restored equilibrium to the match.
“We had a lot of chances,” Kucka said. “We could have left here with three points.”
In Florence, the 20-year-old Keita — a product of Barcelona’s renowned youth system — required just two touches to sprint past Fiorentina’s defense and score with a precise, angled shot shortly before halftime.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored for Lazio in added time, Facundo Roncaglia pulled one back immediately for Fiorentina, and Felipe Anderson then restored Lazio’s two-goal lead in a frenetic finish.
“They were looking for us to make a mistake and take advantage with their counterattacks, and that’s what happened with Keita’s goal,” Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa said. “We faced a squad in great physical condition and that forced us to spend a lot of energy.”
Before the late flurry, Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha preserved the advantage with two difficult saves on Fiorentina substitute Giuseppe Rossi late in the second half.
Before the match, police had to intervene outside the stadium to prevent clashes between opposing fans.
In Modena, Lorenzo Pasciuti and Lorenzo Lollo scored either side of halftime for Carpi before Duvan Zapata pulled one back for Udinese, which remained mid-table.
Pasciuti became the first player in Italy to score for the same club in five different divisions — from Serie D, C2, C1 and B all the way up the top flight.
Carpi won Serie B last season and is playing in Serie A for the first time in its 106-year history.
Meanwhile, Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale remained scoreless for a ninth consecutive match — his longest scoring drought since 2006.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf