AC Milan twice came from a goal down to leave Roma with a fifth draw from their last six Serie A matches after the sides finished 2-2 in an entertaining contest at the San Siro. Roma took the lead early in each half, first through Mattia Destro and then courtesy of a Kevin Strootman penalty, but were pegged back on each occasion by goals from Cristian Zapata and Sulley Muntari.

The result will be another keen disappointment for Roma, whose 10-match winning streak to start the season has now been followed by a series of frustrating dropped points, with the exception of the 2-1 win over Fiorentina last week. It was another match in which Roma were the better team and had the chances to have put the game to bed. But even the return of club idol Francesco Totti as a substitute, following a two-month layoff, couldn’t inspire the Giallorossi to victory as Milan came on strong late on.

Roma now drop five points back of leaders Juventus, with Napoli three points further adrift, although they retain a healthy eight-point cushion over Fiorentina in fourth in the race for a Champions League berth, which must surely be the main aim of Rudi Garcia’s side. That is undoubtedly the prime objective for Milan. After a terrible start to the season, they showed some signs of life on this occasion, but lying in 12th spot in Serie A, 16 points off the final Champions League place, it will require an even more dramatic turnaround than they produced last season to earn a return to Europe’s premier competition.

That task appeared that it would be even more arduous when Roma made a fine start against them on Monday. And their opening goal after 13 minutes had a beautiful simplicity about it as they exposed Milan’s porous back line. A fine pass from Adem Ljajic found the clever run of Strootman down the left of the area and the midfielder’s low cross was turned in by Destro in the middle.

Milan had showed little, but just before the half-hour mark, a shot from the impressive Urby Emanuelson form the angle was tipped over by Morgan De Sanctis and from the corner the hosts were level. Roma’s marking went missing to allow first Muntari to head the ball on at the near post, before Zapata escaped the attentions of Mehdi Benatia to stoop and head in from close range.

Roma could have been back in front just moments later. After some poor goalkeeping by Christian Abbiati, who would have to be taken off with an illness at half-time, Bradley tried to hook the ball in from close to the byline, but it struck the post and the spin on the ball took it back from the line before being cleared.

Gervinho spurned another great chance to put Roma ahead after dallying too long when through on goal, before he won the penalty from which his side went back in front six minutes after the interval. Abbiati’s replacement, Gabriel, made a reckless decision to come sprinting out of his goal to try and intercept the Ivorian but only succeeded in taking him to the ground just inside the box. Strootman sent the young Brazilian the wrong way to get his fourth goal of his fine debut Serie A season.

The visitors had opportunities to get what would surely have been a decisive third goal, notably when they failed to make the most of a breakaway as Emanuelson got back to stop Gervinho finishing. Finally Milan started to produce some pressure on the Roma goal and with 13 minutes to go they struck back once more, with key men Kaka and Mario Balotelli at the heart of it. Balotelli did well to hold up and then lay off Kaka’s incisive pass to Muntari, who drilled a low effort past De Sanctis at the near post.

The game became an even more thrilling spectacle in the dying minutes, with opportunities at both ends. But both Balotelli and Gervinho missed chances to ensure Roma’s unbeaten record remained, although with further sense of regret.

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