Shell-shocked Roma stunned by Ata­lanta

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MILAN: Shell-shocked Roma’s ti­tle hopes were kept in check by a chas­ten­ing 2-0 home de­feat to Ata­lanta yes­ter­day that has piled fur­ther pres­sure on the club’s French coach Rudi Gar­cia.

Roma were firmly in the ti­tle hunt, com­fort­ably in fourth place and three points be­hind lead­ers Inter Milan, go­ing into their first league game since a hu­mil­i­at­ing 6-1 de­feat to Barcelona in the Cham­pi­ons League on Tues­day. But the Serie A hope­fuls, still miss­ing for­wards Gerv­inho and Mo­hamed Salah, looked un­in­ter­ested on their way to a third de­feat of the cam­paign that kept them in fourth but now in dan­ger of see­ing their gap on lead­ers Inter grow to six points.

Gar­cia came in for plenty of crit­i­cism in the wake of his side’s Nou Camp calamity, but he re­jected sug­ges­tions the im­pact of the de­feat had left his side shell-shocked. “No, I don’t think so. We’ll prove that by get­ting the re­sults we need in the fu­ture,” he told Me­di­aset.

But the French­man ad­mit­ted he is now look­ing for ex­cuses af­ter a dis­play for which the whole team felt “re­spon­si­ble”. “There’s not much to say, we didn’t have a win­ning at­ti­tude and we made a lot of mis­takes. Now, we have to keep quiet and get to work.

“It’s been a tough week, I know that. But the squad can show its met­tle by putting this be­hind us. We’re all dis­as­p­pointed, but we’re all re­spon­si­ble.”


The hosts showed plenty of en­ter­prise in a promis­ing first half but paid for sev­eral misses when Ale­jan­dro Gomez struck and Ger­man De­nis dou­bled Ata­lanta’s lead from the spot at the death.

Mi­ralem Pjanic, Edin Dzeko and Juan Iturbe all kept Marco Spor­tiello in the Ata­lanta goal on his toes dur­ing a busy 40 min­utes. Roma looked to be in com­mand but the Sta­dio Olimpico was stunned into si­lence five min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val when French left-back Lu­cas Digne gave pos­ses­sion away cheaply.

Digne’s blind ef­fort to clear up the right flank in­stead gifted pos­ses­sion to Gomez, whose drive from 25 yards out beat Mor­gan De Sanc­tis at the ‘keeper’s far top cor­ner. Pjanic came close to lev­el­ling eight min­utes af­ter the restart only to see his glanc­ing header from a cor­ner cleared off the line by Luca Ci­garini.

But a con­fi­dent Ata­lanta were soon in com­mand, and De Sanc­tis had to be at his best on the hour mark to stop Maxi Mo­ralez on a one-on-one af­ter the Ar­gen­tinian had been sent through by Radja Naing­golan’s mist­imed header. Gar­cia re­placed Iago Falque with re­serve team player Umar Sadiq two min­utes later, while right-back Alessan­dro Florenzi made way for Maicon on 70 min­utes.

But it was to get even worse for Roma af­ter the big Brazil­ian, 10 min­utes af­ter his ar­rival, saw red af­ter a mist­imed chal­lenge on Gomez in­side the area.

De­nis stepped up to beat De Sanc­tis from the penalty spot to dou­ble Ata­lanta’s lead on 82 min­utes. Even af­ter Guglielmo Sten­dardo and Al­berto Grassi saw red in the dy­ing min­utes for sec­ond book­able of­fences re­spec­tively to leave the visi­tors with nine men, it did lit­tle to dampen Ata­lanta’s post-match cel­e­bra­tions.


Ata­lanta coach Edoardo Reja told Rai: “We came here to win and did very well, al­though the key was be­ing clin­i­cal when it came to our chances.”

Roma re­main three points be­hind Inter but could be six adrift if the Ner­az­zurri up­set the form book to beat in-form Napoli, in sec­ond two points adrift, to­day.

Inter coach Roberto Mancini, how­ever, ad­mit­ted: “It’s our first big test against a direct ri­val away from the San Siro, so we have to give it ev­ery­thing.

“Beat­ing Napoli would give us a huge boost, but there are plenty of games to come be­fore it’s all de­cided.” To­day. Fiorentina, also just two points off the pace, are away to Sas­suolo.

Roma’s loss means AC Milan re­main fifth, only four points fur­ther back, af­ter their 4-1 drub­bing of Sam­p­do­ria on Satur­day. Cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus are sev­enth, nine points be­hind Inter, ahead of their trip to Palermo later on Sun­day, when Em­poli host Lazio. — AFP

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