This one had a bit of everything. Would Manchester City and their Champions League future keep Roma from focusing on the task at hand? Would Kevin Strootman's return to the starting eleven spark a lineup that was drastically different than the one that entertained us at the Olimpico last week? How would Florenzi do at right back? Could we still have a party without Totti?
This one got off to a hot start. Morgan De Sanctis who got things going with what can only be describe as a move that would make Goicoechea cringe; a move which allowed Simone Zaza to capitalize giving Sassuolo the lead just fifteen minutes into the match. Things would only get worse from there.
Just three minutes later Zaza would put a another dagger into the hearts of Romanisti around the world to make the score 2-0 in favor of Sassuolo. There isn't a whole lot I can add to the first half narrative. Roma were bad. The attack was invisible, the midfield lost and the defense in shambles. Roma as a whole was poor in the first half. Rudi would have his work cut out for him if he was going to get Roma clicking.
Roma would have a mountain to climb in the second half. A mountain that would grow even taller only five minutes into the second half when Daniele De Rossi stopped a counter attack led by Domenico Berardi, receiving his second yellow card in the process, leaving Roma with ten men.
This forced Rudi Garcia into some changes: Strootman would make way for Radja Nainggolan, while Gervinho would replace Juan Iturbe in attack. It took a while, though, for Roma to get her head back on straight. Florenzi would take the armband in De Rossi's place. But Roma just had no direction; they were a lost ship with no destination. There was no one orchestrating the band, no one to connect the midfield with the attack. Then at around the seventy minute mark, Rudi Garcia would use his last substitution to replace Miralem Pjanic with Seydou Keita. But yet Roma still needed a spark to start the fire, they needed something to happen.
Luckily for Roma, they would catch a break in the seventy eighth minute when a penalty was given for a hand ball. But without Totti or Pjanic to take the spot kick, Adem Ljajic stepped into the spotlight, striking it right down the middle to make it a one goal game.
Ljajic gave Roma a ray of hope; a belief that they could still take something from the match. And take something they would.
It was a little over a year ago that Sassuolo broke our hearts in stoppage time, but today Roma returned the favor. In the ninety third minute, Adem would find the back of the net for the equalizer, with Florenzi setting him up from right back, while Gervinho would get the hockey assist. Moments after the goal Sime Vrsaljko received a second yellow and the match would finish ten apiece. This one would end in a 2-2 draw. Sassuolo's unbeaten run is extended to eight games. Roma must now begin preparing for their Champions League clash against Manchester City.