Serie A bottom side Livorno dealt a potentially fatal blow to AS Roma's Serie A championship hopes by holding the title challengers to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
The result will have been all the harder to take for Roma with Francesco Totti suffering a serious knee injury which reports suggest could bring a premature end to the talismanic captain's season.
Roma went into this game aiming to close the gap on leaders Inter Milan to just one point and victory looked assured as their domination was finally rewarded when Mirko Vucinic's looping header put them into a 54th minute lead.
But gutsy Livorno, fighting for their top-flight lives, stunned the complacent capital side when Alessandro Diamanti's cannon ball curving left-footed freekick, awarded after a foul by Juan, flew past keeper Doni.
With only seven minutes left a frantic Roma went desperately close to finding the precious winner but despite on target attempts by Daniele De Rossi and Christian Panucci's injury time header Livorno's keeper Marco Amelia kept the hosts at bay.
Roma were forced to play the last hour of the game without Totti after he limped off the pitch having picked up an injury to his right knee.
Totti, who was replaced by Amantino Mancini, was taken to a nearby clinic for a scan with news agency ANSA suggesting he could be out for as long as five months.
With two vital points squandered Roma are now three adrift of Inter who can extend the gap to six points with success away to troubled Torino on Sunday.
“The disappointment is total,” said Roma manager Luciano Spalletti.
“The team were in front, and they were worth the lead even if they weren't that dangerous in the first half.
“And then, at 1-1, they created three or four shots worthy of goals. We should have been more aggressive. We've squandered an opportunity.”
Roma defender Philippe Mexas added: “That's the way it goes. We're really disappointed because we didn't merit a result like that.
“To lead 1-0 is never enough. We should have done better, regardless of the opposition.
“It's a great pity. The Scudetto is won also by beating smaller sides. And if we always produce a draw against them (this stalemate followed a draw away to Livorno earlier in the campaign) we can't think about winning the title.
“And now, unfortunately, we have to wait on results elsewhere.”
For Livorno, who had only mustered one draw (in 1933) and one win (in 1947) from their last 15 visits to the Stadio Olimpico, this unexpected point will give them renewed hope of beating the drop with four games of the season to go.
They jumped above fellow relegation strugglers Reggina and Empoli but could find themselves back at the bottom depending on results Sunday.
In Saturday's late game fourth-placed Fiorentina beat mid-table Palermo 1-0 courtesy of a fine 20 metre shot from Marco Donadel in the 29th minute.
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