Juventus and Roma each held to draws by bottom 2 clubs
ROME (AP) — The bottom two clubs in Serie A earned draws against the top two teams Sunday, maintaining Juventus’ seven-point lead over Roma.
Arturo Vidal missed a late penalty kick that could have been the winner for Juventus, which was held 2-2 at relegation-threatened Cesena for its second draw in three matches.
Earlier, Roma was held scoreless by last-place Parma for a humiliating fifth consecutive draw at home.
With Carlos Tevez suspended, Alvaro Morata and Claudio Marchisio responded before halftime to Milan Djuric’s opener for Cesena but Franco Brienza equalized for the hosts in the 70th.
“We knew we needed to have a super performance and hope they didn’t play up to their level,” Brienza said. “That’s the beauty of football — it doesn’t always go according to plan.”
Also Sunday, struggling AC Milan was fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at home with Empoli after ending with nine men.
The Rossoneri then dropped back into the second half of the table when city rival Inter Milan won 4-1 at 10-man Atalanta with Fredy Guarin scoring twice.
Elsewhere, Lazio won 1-0 at Udinese a first-half penalty from Antonio Candreva; Genoa beat Hellas Verona 5-2; Torino drew 1-1 with Cagliari; and Chievo Verona beat visiting Sampdoria 2-1
In Cesena, Djuric gave Cesena the lead 17 minutes in following a rare errant pass from Andrea Pirlo.
Morata then redirected a cross from Paul Pogba with a header in the 27th after being allowed space between two defenders.
Six minutes later, Marchisio pounced on a loose ball at the edge of the box to give Juve the lead.
But midway through the second half, Juventus center backs Leonardo Bonucci and Angelo Ogbonna were both to blame when Brienza was left open to slot in a shot from the edge of the area.
Still, Juventus had a chance to win when Stefano Lucchini stuck his left arm up to block a bicycle kick from Fernando Llorente. But Vidal missed the ensuing penalty wide left even though the goalkeeper dove the other way.
Roma’s best chances came during a frantic assault on Parma’s goal in the final minutes, with Ashley Cole hitting the post on one opportunity and missing high on another, even better chance.
Aftwerward, fans at the Stadio Olimpico whistled their squad off the pitch.
How is it, the fans must be thinking, that a squad that began the season in the Champions League and once appeared poised to end Juventus’ run of three straight A titles, can’t even win at home anymore?
“We’re asking ourselves the same question,” Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan said. “We’re just not able to do certain things. If you can’t put the ball in the net it’s difficult to win. ... (The fans) are disappointed and so are we.”
At the San Siro, former Roma forward Mattia Destro scored his first goal with Milan from close-range in the 40th and Massimo Maccarone equalized with a header in the 68th after being left unmarked by Gabriel Paletta, another new Milan player.
Milan goalkeeper Diego Lopez was shown a red card for using his hand to deflect a shot outside the area in the 83rd and Rossoneri defender Gabriel Paletta limped off five minutes later with an apparent muscle problem after all three substitutions were used.
Also, Milan defender Alex was brought to a local hospital with a broken nose following a collision eight minutes in.
Milan, which has won only one of its last seven matches, is 11th — a massive 24 points behind Juventus.
“I’m trying to keep the lads calm but it’s tough to accept a run like this. It takes patience,” said Filippo Inzaghi, Milan’s first-year coach. “We’ve been a bit unlucky lately.”
Destro scored from close-range by redirecting a cross from Giacomo Bonaventura and Maccarone found the target with a header after being left unmarked by Paletta, another new Milan player.
Empoli completed 170 more passes than Milan, according to Opta sports data.
It was a different story for Inter, which took control of a regional derby when Guarin earned a penalty that Zherdan Shaqiri converted two minutes in for his first goal since transferring from Bayern Munich last month.
Inter was fortunate when Juan Jesus was shown only a yellow card for swiping an opposing player in the head in the 19th and then Maxi Moralez equalized in the 28th with a shot from the center of the area.
Inter regained control when Guarin scored with a bouncing shot from the edge of the area in the 37th and Atalanta’s Yohan Benalouane was shown a second yellow in the 52nd.
Guarin scored another 11 minutes later with a curving shot from beyond the area, and Rodrigo Palacio also found the target for the visitors when a shot was deflected off his shin in the 73rd.
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf