Neither Rudi Garcia nor Sinisa Mihajlovic were able to claim a much-needed win at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday as Roma and AC Milan played out a 1-1 draw in Serie A.
Both Garcia and Mihajlovic have come under increasing pressure of late but their sides could not be separated as Juraj Kucka cancelled out Antonio Rudiger’s early strike in the capital.
After one win in eight matches prior to the mid-season break, Garcia’s Roma twice let leads slip to draw against Chievo in midweek but the hosts were impressive early on as Rudiger’s close-range finish gave them an ideal start.
Mihajlovic – whose side were jeered after their midweek defeat to Bologna at San Siro – grew into the game after Rudiger had rattled the post with a header midway through the first half.
Gianluigi Donnarumma produced a stunning save to deny the German and, early in the second half, Milan’s improvement was rewarded when Kucka headed in at the far post.
Kucka missed a glorious chance for a brace, while Giacomo Bonaventura was denied by the woodwork, but neither side could find a winner as Milan moved sixth – a place and five points off Roma, who welcomed back Francesco Totti after more than three months out.
In-form striker Umar Sadiq forced fellow teenager Donnarumma into a smart stop when he capitalised on sloppy Milan defending 15 seconds in as Roma started brightly.
And the hosts were rewarded for their early initiative when Rudiger ghosted in unmarked at the far post to convert Miralem Pjanic’s deep delivery.
Rudiger was denied a second when Donnarumma impressively tipped the defender’s header onto the crossbar 20 minutes in, before Milan improved and saw Bonaventura force saves with two long-range efforts either side of the break.
Roma’s Iago Falque saw an effort saved by Donnarumma as Milan struggled to convert their possession into clear-cut chances prior to half-time.
However, the visitors’ pressure paid off four minutes into the second half when Keisuke Honda stood up a cross down the right, allowing Kucka to climb highest and arc a header past Wojciech Szczesny.
The game remained open before the hour – Milan introducing Kevin-Prince Boateng off the bench for his second Milan debut – with Carlos Bacca almost getting on the end of a throughball, thwarted by Szczesny.
Bacca then dummied Boateng’s pullback only for Kucka to turn the ball over from inside the area, before Bonaventura hit the crossbar from the edge of the area.
However, while Milan piled on pressure, Gervinho sent an effort wide before Totti made his first appearance since September off the bench following a long-term thigh injury.
Despite both sides impressing in spells, neither were able to secure a win to put pressure on Serie A’s leading pack, of whom Inter, Napoli and Juventus play on Sunday.
Key Opta stats:
– Roma have scored eight goals in the opening 15 minutes of play this season – a Serie A-record.
– Juraj Kucka has scored three goals in six league appearances against Roma, more than against any other opponent in Serie A.
– Kucka needed 25 shots to find his first goal of this campaign – he’s now ended a 17-game scoring drought in Serie A.
– Francesco Totti made his 592nd appearance in Serie A, equalling Gianluca Pagliuca – only Paolo Maldini and Javier Zanetti have played more Serie A games.
– Totti replaced Umar Sadiq after 70 minutes of play – the age difference between the two is 20y 4m 7d.
– Roma recorded their lowest possession in a home game of this campaign (43.6 per cent).