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February 22, 2015

MILAN (AP) — Roma's slim title hopes faded further on Sunday as it drew 1-1 at Hellas Verona in Serie A to leave it nine points behind league leader Juventus.

Francesco Totti fired Roma in front in the 26th minute but Verona leveled when Seydou Keita deflected Bosko Jankovic's header into his own net.

Adem Ljajic should have sent Roma in at the break in front after a fine first-half performance from the capital side, but he hit the post.

"We played well in the first half and it was a surprise to find ourselves drawing 1-1 at the break, with everything we created," Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. "With a half chance Verona leveled with an own goal. We made mistakes in the second half but with a bit more luck we could have secured the match in the first 45 minutes.

"The lads showed that when we play with the ball quickly we can trouble any team. In the second half we didn't show patience and made too many mistakes, allowing our opponent to counter. We got the final ball wrong in the last 15 minutes. We need to take our chances. We also need to find consistency."

It was Roma's sixth draw in its past seven league matches.

Elsewhere, Lazio moved fourth as Antonio Candreva helped it beat Palermo 2-1. Lazio went a point ahead of Fiorentina, which was held 1-1 by Torino, and two behind Napoli, which hosts Sassuolo on Monday.

AC Milan recorded only its second win in nine matches with a 2-0 victory over Cesena, while Empoli beat fellow struggler Chievo Verona 3-0.

Inter Milan also plays Monday, away at relegation-threatened Cagliari.

Parma's match against Udinese was postponed with the club unable to pay for security and electricity.

With Juventus beating Atalanta 2-1 on Friday night, Roma knew it had to win to stay in touch with the defending champion ahead of their match at the Stadio Olimpico next week.

Roma's early pressure paid off when Totti fired the capital side in front with a 25-yard effort that bounced in front of Verona goalkeeper Francesco Benussi before going into the bottom left corner.

Verona leveled in the 38th minute when Jankovic's header from Emil Hallfredsson's corner hit Keita on its way into the net, wrongfooting Morgan De Sanctis.

Roma could have restored its lead on the stroke of halftime but Ljajic's free kick crashed off the crossbar.

Lazio is now only eight points behind Roma and firmly in the race for a Champions League spot.

Paulo Dybala fired Palermo in front with his 12th goal of the season in the 26th minute but Stefano Mauri leveled seven minutes later, tapping in from close range after Danilo Cataldi had knocked a cross back into the middle.

Candreva sealed all three points for Lazio with a stunning 78th-minute goal, cutting in from the left side of the area before curling into the top far corner. The midfielder injured himself in the celebrations and had to be replaced.

There was more misery for Palermo as Edgar Barreto was sent off in stoppage time following a second yellow card.

Fiorentina should have taken the lead in the 11th minute when it was awarded a penalty after Daniele Baselli bundled over Milan Badelj but Daniele Padelli parried Khouma Babacar's effort and got back up to stop the rebound too.

The home side thought it had scored the winner five minutes from time when new signing Mohamed Salah netted his second goal in as many league matches but Giuseppe Vives leveled two minutes later, from close range after Ciprian Tatarusanu had denied Maxi Lopez.

Milan was desperate for a win amid reports coach Filippo Inzaghi would be sacked if his side failed to beat Cesena.

Andrea Poli almost got Milan off to the perfect start when he had the ball in the back of the net inside the opening two minutes but it was ruled out for offside.

Giacomo Bonaventura broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute with a powerful strike from Jeremy Menez's assist and the two combined well again shortly after halftime but Bonaventura's effort came off the post.

Giampaolo Pazzini secured the victory in stoppage time with a penalty after Carlos Carbonera was adjudged to have pushed Luca Antonelli.

Massimo Maccarone netted twice, after Daniele Rugani's opener, to help Empoli beat Chievo in a relegation battle.

Both teams were level, four points off the drop, heading into the match.

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