MILAN — Roma rallied from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo with a stoppage-time equalizer from Adem Ljajic but missed the opportunity to close the gap on Serie A leader Juventus on Saturday.
Ljajic, who got Roma back into the match with a penalty, snatched a point for the hosts with practically the game’s last kick.
After Juventus was held to 0-0 at Fiorentina on Friday, Roma knew it could cut the gap to one point with a victory at Stadio Olimpico, where it had won all seven of its previous league matches this season, conceding just two goals.
But Zaza scored twice in three first-half minutes — the first following a howler from goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis — and Roma’s chances diminished when Daniele De Rossi was sent off at the start of the second half.
Sassuolo defender Sime Vrsaljko was also sent off in stoppage time following two yellow cards.
"We started badly, then it was only us in the game and we created a lot but only managed a draw," Ljajic said. "We’re disappointed because of the standings, we had the opportunity to go a point behind but the season is long … and we’ll see at the end."
Roma remained three points behind Juve, while Sassuolo moved to provisional ninth after extending its club record unbeaten run to eight league matches.
"We were a bit naive at the end," Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "But Florenzi was offside for their second goal, and the penalty was debatable. The rules state that it’s not a penalty if it touches the knee or a part of the body and then hits the arm."
Elsewhere, Torino drew 2-2 at home to Palermo to snap a run of three consecutive defeats.
Roma appeared to have half an eye on Wednesday’s crucial Champions League match against Manchester City, as Rudi Garcia rested a number of players, including captain Francesco Totti.
Gervinho, Douglas Maicon, Davide Astori and Radja Nainggolan also started from the bench while Kevin Strootman got his first start since injuring his knee back in March.
Zaza returned from a one-match ban and gave Sassuolo the lead after a quarter of an hour. De Sanctis controlled a back pass but was slow to clear, allowing the striker to pounce.
Zaza doubled his tally three minutes later as he beat the offside trap to race clear on goal and smash it past De Sanctis.
Roma’s Jose Holebas prevented Sassuolo from extending its halftime advantage when he slid in for a crucial tackle to prevent Domenico Berardi from tapping into an empty net.
Roma was given another lifeline when Gervinho’s shot hit Vrsaljko’s arm and Ljajic thumped the resulting penalty straight down the middle to reduce the deficit 12 minutes from time.
Ljajic levelled when he rushed in to fire in Alessandro Florenzi’s low cross.
In Turin, Palermo took the lead when Paolo Dybala rolled the ball across the edge of the penalty area for Luca Rigoni to lash into the far side of the net in the 16th minute.
Torino levelled in the 36th as Josef Martinez controlled Emiliano Moretti’s lob into the box before turning to net his first Serie A goal.
Palermo restored its advantage against the run of play but in spectacular fashion two minutes from the break. Dybala controlled Achraf Lazaar’s pass with a backheel flick over his head and fired past Jean-Francois Gillet from a tight angle for his fifth goal in as many matches.
Torino levelled again shortly after the hour mark with a powerful header from captain Kamil Glik into the bottom right corner.
Fabio Quagliarella thought he scored a late winner for Torino, but it was very harshly ruled out for offside.