Five days after a humiliating 6-1 rout by Barcelona in the Champions League, Roma's defensive deficiencies were highlighted again in an alarming 2-0 loss at home to Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday.
ROME (AP) — Five days after a humiliating 6-1 rout by Barcelona in the Champions League, Roma's defensive deficiencies were highlighted again in an alarming 2-0 loss at home to Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday.
Alejandro Gomez intercepted a poor pass from Roma defender Lucas Digne to score from outside the area before halftime. Then substitute fullback Maicon was sent off for tripping Gomez to set up a penalty for German Denis eight minutes from the end.
Roma remained fourth, wasting a chance to pull level with leader Inter Milan, which visits second-place Napoli on Monday.
Four-time defending champion Juventus won 3-0 at Palermo for its fourth straight victory and moved into fifth, three points behind Roma.
Mario Mandzukic scored with a decisive header early in the second half to follow up another key goal in Juve's 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League.
Paulo Dybala, facing his former squad for the first time after a 32 million euro ($34 million) transfer, provided the cross for Mandzukic's goal.
Stefano Sturaro sealed it for Juventus from the edge of the area after being set up by Paul Pogba in the 89th and substitute Simone Zaza added another in stoppage time.
Roma has scored a league-best 29 goals but has conceded 17 — more than twice as many as both Inter and Napoli.
Defense was also a problem in a 3-2 loss at BATE Borisov and a 4-4 draw with Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League — results that have put the status of coach Rudi Garcia in question.
"I'm not giving up. I'm disappointed and angry but I'm not used to giving up," Garcia said. "We're all responsible, me above all. ... It's been an ugly week but I'm sure that behind the clouds the sky is blue."
Elsewhere, Empoli beat Lazio 1-0 with an early goal from Lorenzo Tonelli. Miroslav Klose had several late chances but Lazio was handed its sixth loss in seven away matches.
Cyril Thereau scored twice, including an 81st-minute winner, as Udinese won 3-2 at Chievo Verona; and Carpi came from behind for a 2-1 victory at 10-man Genoa with Marco Borriello scoring one goal and setting up another for former Italy international Cristian Zaccardo.
Also, Hellas Verona remained winless after a 3-2 loss at Frosinone after goalkeeper Rafael was sent off near the start for elbowing an opponent's head. Matteo Ciofani scored twice for Frosinone, which moved one point above the drop zone.
There has been speculation that Sassuolo's Eusebio Di Francesco, who played on the Roma side that won Serie A in 2001, has already been lined up as a possible successor for Garcia. But Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini confirmed before Sunday's match that the club plans to stick with Garcia long-term.
"Roma is not a failure, because it's a construction project that is still being built," Sabatini told Mediaset Premium. "We respect (Di Francesco) but nobody has contacted him and nobody will because our manager is Garcia."
While Roma's attack has been unmatched in Italy, the squad is currently without several key forwards with Mohamed Salah, Gervinho and Francesco Totti all injured.
In defense, Kostas Manolas has often had to fend off attackers by himself with fellow center back Antonio Rudiger struggling match after match. Leandro Castan, who is still regaining his form after brain surgery last year, replaced Rudiger in the starting lineup against Atalanta.
But it was the fullbacks who caused the biggest problems, with Digne gifting Atalanta's first goal and Maicon's penalty leading to the second.
Roma ended with 10 men and Atalanta finished with only nine after Guglielmo Stendardo and Alberto Grassi were sent off near the end, as Giallorossi fans filled the Stadio Olimpico with whistles.
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