MILAN: Marco Sau produced a last-gasp leveler for newly promoted Cagliari as they battled back to draw 2-2 with Roma in Serie A on Sunday (Monday in Manila) and complete a difficult few days for the Giallorossi.
Genoa, who saw new Italy call-up Luca Pavoletti hit a brace in a 3-1 win away to newly-promoted Crotone, are top of the fledgling table, albeit level on a maximum six points with champions Juventus, Sampdoria and Sassuolo.
Juventus, who are targeting a record sixth consecutive ‘Scudetto’ this season, claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win at Lazio on Saturday courtesy of Sami Khedira’s stylish 66th-minute winner.
Having crashed out of the Champions League play-offs in midweek after collapsing to a 3-0 home defeat to FC Porto, Roma contrived to throw away a two-goal lead in Sardinia.
It took only six minutes for Luciano Spalletti’s visitors to break the deadlock, Diego Perotti hitting his third penalty in two games after Mauricio Isla hauled Stephan El Shaarawy down in the area.
Roma were given a great boost a minute after the restart when Kevin Strootman, who returned from the latest of several long-term injuries at the end of last season, doubling their lead with his first league goal since January 2014.
But Marco Borriello pulled one back for the hosts just before the hour and in the dying minutes Roma ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny was beaten again when he came rushing out as Sau glanced the ball past him and into the far corner of the net.
Roma coach Spalletti hailed Strootman and assist provider Edin Dzeko but admitted his side lacked “character”.
“Strootman tonight showed how great a player he is, and Dzeko did well to come up with a great assist,” said Spalletti.
He added: “We have to find the right balance, not just tactically but also in terms of concentration. We were playing well then met some difficulties and that gave our opponents a head of steam and they managed to level.
“We have to improve in terms of personality and character.”
Raffaele Palladino put Crotone in front at home to Genoa but Serge Gakpe equalised early in the second half before Pavoletti celebrated his international call-up with two goals to secure the win.
Torino claimed an impressive 5-1 win over Bologna which should have had Italy coach Giampiero Ventura smiling for at least two good reasons.
Ventura was coach of Torino until he replaced Chelsea-bound Antonio Conte earlier this month, and the new Azzurri boss included Andrea Belotti in his first squad to face France in a friendly on Thursday and Israel in a 2018 World Cup qualifier next week.
Belotti scored a hat-trick and missed a penalty against Bologna while Josef Martinez and Daniele Baselli were also on target for the home side in Turin.
At the San Siro, Mauro Icardi hit his first goal of the season but Inter Milan suffered a second knock in as many weeks in a 1-1 home draw with Palermo, following last week’s shock 2-0 defeat at Chievo.
Andrea Rispoli gave Palermo the lead and Icardi’s 72nd-minute leveller secured a share of the spoils but for long spells Frank de Boer’s hosts looked a work in progress.
“We played a lot better than we did last week, but we’re very disappointed because we could have won 4-1 if we’d converted the chances we had in the second half,” said De Boer.
“But to be really up and running, we’ll need four weeks.”
Elsewhere, Fiorentina made amends for last week’s 2-1 defeat to Juventus with a 1-0 win over Chievo as Carlos Sanchez headed a 29th-minute winner for his maiden goal in Serie A.
In Saturday’s other game, Napoli beat AC Milan 4-2 with Polish international Arkadiusz Milik, signed as a replacement for Juventus-bound Gonzalo Higuain, scoring a brace.