Roma reeling after Chievo stalemate before Real Madrid trip

Real Madrid’s Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui gives instructions to his players during the Spanish league football match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid CF at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on September 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE

Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma threw away a two-goal lead as tailenders Chievo snatched a 2-2 draw in the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to deliver a blow to the side from the capital before their daunting midweek trip to Champions League holders Real Madrid.

Stephan El Shaarawy and Bryan Cristante scored in the first half to give Roma a grip on the game after their loss to AC Milan before the international break.

But Chievo — who were beaten 6-1 by Fiorentina in their last game and deducted three points by the Italian FA for false accounting — battled back in the second half.

Valter Birsa pulled a goal back after 52 minutes with Polish striker Mariusz Stepinski grabbing a point for the club from Verona seven minutes from time.

Roma are now seventh with five points from four games — four points behind champions Juventus who host Sassuolo later on Sunday with Cristiano Ronaldo still waiting for his first goal.

Chievo are propping up the table on -1 points after their deduction during the week.

Last season’s Serie A runners-up Napoli got back to winning on Saturday with Lorenzo Insigne scoring the only goal against Fiorentina ahead of next week’s Champions League trip to Red Star Belgrade.

But Inter Milan’s woes were compounded with a shock 1-0 defeat to Parma ahead of their European opener against Tottenham in the San Siro.

In the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, Italian winger El Shaarawy got Di Francesco’s side off the mark after ten minutes with a volley off a pin perfect Alessandro Florenzi freekick.

On-loan Atalanta midfielder Cristante then turned in his first goal for Roma after half an hour, from a distance after good work from Edin Dzeko.

Stepinski and Birsa both headed over before the break as Chievo dug deep.

Slovenian Birsa found a way through with a curling effort seven minutes after the break, with Stepinski breaking through the tired Roman defence, as the clock ticked.

Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen did well to clear a final Emanuele Giaccherini effort to save a point for the Romans.

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