Roma’s slide away from the Scudetto continued apace on Sunday night with a 1-1 draw against Inter Milan. After taking the game to Inter for an hour at the San Siro, they sat further and further back, allowing the hosts to score a late equaliser that damages their prospects of a Champions league place next season.
Eusebio Di Francesco has the outstanding Alisson to thank for his side leaving Milan with a point as the Brazil international showed why he’s in the Selecao ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson. Two saves in the second half from Mauro Icardi — the first a powerful, close-range shot he somehow tipped onto the post — showed why Liverpool are eyeing him up. (Just don’t be surprised if Roma sold him.)
Alisson even showed Ederson how a keeper can set up a goal. It was his long boot that Stephan El Shaarawy latched onto to open the scoring in the 31st minute, although Inter defender Davide Santon allowed the Egypt international to charge through and clip the ball over Samir Handanovic by completely misjudging the flight of the ball in the manner of a drunk Sunday league clogger.
He could do nothing about Inter’s equaliser however, with Matias Vecino left completely unmarked by three centre-backs and allowed to nod home a free-header from just yards out. The leveller was the very least Inter deserved after hammering at Roma for the last half hour, and the Giallorossi can consider themselves very lucky to not have been beaten by former coach Luciano Spalletti twice in one season. A win in their game in hand at Sampdoria on Wednesday is now essential for Roma.
Roma set about their task well in the first half, harrying Inter and making life difficult for them both defensively and going forward, and Kevin Strootman impressed in the holding role usually reserved for Daniele De Rossi. The attacks down the left, led by Aleksandar Kolarov, put Inter on the back foot, and it was good to see clinical finishing for once: El Shaarawy’s goal came from Roma’s only shot on target.
The fact that Handanovic didn’t make a single save, and was way too slow out of his goal once El Shaarawy burst through, highlights the problems Roma are having scoring goals. Dzeko constantly has his back to goal and rarely has a chance to shoot, while the team struggled to get in behind Inter’s defence, just as they have against weaker opposition in recent weeks.
5 — Di Francesco was limited in what he could do with De Rossi and Maxime Gonalons both out injured, so there was little he could do about the tiredness that crept into midfield as the second half wore on. His decision to shift Alessandro Florenzi forward made sense but meant bringing on Bruno Peres, never the best defensively, as he slid further and further back into their own half. Peres was then culpable for the cross from which Vecino equalised.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 9 — Man of the match. Kept Roma in the game with a string of great saves and even managed his first assist.
DF Alessandro Florenzi, 6 — Did very well to contain Ivan Perisic but offered very little going forward.
DF Kostas Manolas, 6 — It was only thanks to Alisson that Icardi didn’t score at least once.
DF Federico Fazio, 6 — Lost Vecino for the goal and suffered when Roma decided to sit back and defend their narrow lead.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 6 — Dutifully got forward and caused Inter some problems, but the Serbia international isn’t 100 percent at the moment.
MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, 6 — Full of enthusiasm in carrying out Di Francesco’s orders but should have done better with a presentable first half chance.
MF Kevin Strootman, 7 — Did a good job deputising for De Rossi in front of the back four, and was one of the few to hold up until the end.
MF Gerson, 6 — Neat and tidy with the ball but struggled defensively.
FW Stephan El Shaarawy, 7 — Took his solitary chance magnificently in a match in which Roma created very little.
FW Edin Dzeko, 5 — Looked like his potential move to Chelsea was weighing on his mind, but he is struggling with Di Francesco’s system.
FW Radja Nainggolan, 6 — Caused Inter problems with his willingness to get all over the pitch, despite nominally starting as a winger.
DF Bruno Peres, 5 — Didn’t do as well against Perisic in a back five as Florenzi did in a back four, and allowed Brozovic to cross for the equaliser.
DF Juan Jesus, NR — One of three centre-backs who let a wide-open Vecino have a free header.
FW Patrick Schick, NR — Could do little in the limited time he had on the field.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC’s AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley