By Julian Cardillo
ROME – AS Roma may have outplayed Sampdoria at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night, but a 1-1 tie was all the Giallorossi could put together in front of 37,125 fans. Roma (2-1-2, 8 points) produced a slew of scoring opportunities and had a man advantage for the entire second half, and Sampdoria mustered just one chance. But Sampdoria (3-0-2, 11 points) converted on its only scoring threat to keep Roma winless at home through the first month and a half of the season.
“For me, we should have been able to get a win,” Roma coach Zdenek Zeman said. “It’s normal that I’m not satisfied after this game, though. We know how to play our game, but we didn’t do that tonight. This is the right result for what we put into the game.”
Francesco Totti, who celebrates his 36th birthday Thursday, gave Roma the lead in the 34th minute off a feed from Alessandro Florenzi. Florenzi controlled a pass from Erik Lamela at the edge of the penalty area and sent it across the penalty area to an unmarked Totti, who poked the ball past Sergio Romero for his first goal of the season.
But Roma blew a lead for the third time in five games, putting a damper on Totti’s festivities and failing to capture what could have been an easy three points. Roma has shown flashes of brilliance in each of its games this season. However, Roma has also had a tendency to be careless and produce untimely errors. That happened again in the second half against Sampdoria.
Though Sampdoria dug itself into a deeper hole when referee Paolo Mazzoleni red-carded Enzo Maresca just one minute into the second half for a late tackle on Florenzi, it still maintained a physical, direct style of play. But with a man advantage, Roma should have been able capitalize on the space Maresca’s absence left in midfield. Instead, all Roma was able to do was pass around Sampdoria’s penalty area and generate a single shot on goal in 43 minutes.
With Roma controlling possession, all Sampdoria could do was wait and hope for a mistake to jump on. In the 61st minute, the waiting paid off.
Eder sent a right-footed cross into the penalty area that Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg dropped in front of Gianni Munari. Munari took the ball down with his right foot and pounded it into the back of the net to level the game. Stekelenburg, who has yet to earn a shutout this season, walked past reporters after the game without answering questions.
“We’re sad because we played a good first half,” Roma defender Leandro Castan said. “The second half was not as good. We just have to work hard to prevent this from happening again. We have to go forward and obtain the points we lost [Wednesday] night.”
Roma plays first-place Juventus on Sunday in Torino.
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