Roma throw away points at Chievo to leave Rudi Garcia in trouble
Roma coach Rudi Garcia called Wednesday's 3-3 draw at Chievo "two points thrown away," and he's not wrong.
Leading 2-0 with a minute of the first half left thanks to goals from Umar Sadiq and Alessandro Florenzi, Roma let Chievo pull back to 2-2 with two characteristically cheap goals.
They were caught again five minutes before the end, when goal line technology awarded Simone Pepe a late free-kick equaliser and cancelled out Iago Falque's fine 71st minute strike.
While Roma are still theoretically in the hunt for the Scudetto -- they stay fifth, six points behind leaders Inter Milan -- this is a team in the depths of a midseason funk. It's also a team that always seems to lose its nerve in the final minutes.
Roma have conceded late to draw three of their last six Serie A matches, (at Bologna, Torino and now Chievo) dumping six points that would have put them top of the league had they kept their composure. They have now conceded in the last 15 minutes nine times this season and haven't won away from home since October.
AC Milan are up next in Saturday night as Garcia's position is once again called into question. How long will the club back their manager if the title, and more importantly the Champions League places, slip further away?
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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 4 -- Not the Pole's best day between the sticks. Failed to come for the corner from which Dario Dainelli scored the home side's first equaliser. He was also very slow down to Pepe's less than stunning free-kick leveller.
DF Maicon, 5 -- Back in the team thanks to Florenzi covering gaps left in midfield by Miralem Pjanic and Radja Nainggolan, the Brazilian was his usual self, ready to push forward and solid enough in his defensive duties.
DF Kostas Manolas, 4 -- Lost Dainelli for Chievo's first equaliser and looked even less comfortable than usual alongside Antonio Rudiger. The Greek is the stronger half of Roma's central defence, but that's not saying a whole lot.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 5 -- Even when not playing all that badly, the German simply does not convince as a centre-back. Jittery with the ball and clumsy rather than strong in the tackle, he needs a leader alongside him.
DF Lucas Digne, 6 -- His intercepting header in the seventh minute sent Gervinho on the slalom run that eventually led to Sadiq's opener. Not at fault for anything in particular but like the rest of his team he looks more comfortable pushing forward than when defending.
MF Alessandro Florenzi, 7 -- A ray of light on an otherwise deeply frustrating day. The Italian international showed the strikers how to finish when one-on-one with the keeper. His effort, desire and eye for goal would make him an asset to almost any team.
MF William Vainqueur, 6 -- Perfectly neat with the ball and willing to carry out his defensive duties, but he's no Pjanic and he will not be taking the Bosnian's place on the evidence of this prosaic display.
MF Iago Falque, 6 -- Looked more comfortable in a more withdrawn role compared to the one he usually occupies in the attacking trident. Tidy with the ball and took his second league goal of the season very well from the edge of the area.
FW Mohamed Salah, 5 -- The Egyptian was below par for much of his 70 minutes on the field and spurned a golden chance to make it 3-1 just two minutes before Dainelli struck to make it 2-2. Limped off with a muscle injury and will miss Saturday's game against Milan.
FW Umar Sadiq, 6 -- The 18-year-old Nigerian is raw and ungainly but his seventh-minute tap-in was his second in as many appearances and he already offers more of a goal threat than the struggling Edin Dzeko. However he should have had his second 10 minutes before the break, but rushed his near post finish and shot into the side netting.
FW Gervinho, 6 -- The Ivorian set up the opener in a roundabout way thanks to a mishit shot that found its way to Sadiq, and spent the rest of the match buzzing around, always threatening but never quite delivering.
FW Lorenzo Di Livio, 6 -- The son of former Juventus, Fiorentina and Italy midfielder Angelo Di Livio made his Serie A debut for Roma as a 70th-minute substitute for the injured Salah, and performed well.
DF Norbert Gyomber -- Introduced in place of Sadiq with 10 minutes to go as Garcia sought to protect a fragile 3-2 lead.
MF Marco Tumminello -- Brought on for Florenzi in stoppage time, 17-year-old youth team attacker had no time to make any sort of impression.
Terry Daley is based in Rome and has covered Italian football for both Reuters and AFP. He has written for Vice Sports and Mirror Football. Twitter: @T_Daley