Roma held to a draw at Verona on opening day of Serie A
MILAN - Roma was held to a 1-1 draw at Hellas Verona on the opening day of the Serie A season on Saturday.
Bosko Jankovic volleyed Verona into the lead on the hour but its advantage lasted barely five minutes before Alessandro Florenzi leveled with a long-range strike. Roma finished second last season, 17 points behind Juventus, which kicks off its bid for a fifth successive league title against Udinese on Sunday.
Lazio, which finished a point behind Roma, hosts newly-promoted Bologna later. Roma had Wojciech Szczesny to thank for keeping it in the game as the Poland goalkeeper, signed on a season-long loan deal from Arsenal, pulled off a number of crucial saves.
Szczesny was making his competitive debut for Roma, as were fellow new signings Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko. Leandro Castan returned after almost a year out following brain surgery. Verona almost took the lead with barely a minute on the clock but Juanito Gomez Taleb curled just over.
Rafael did well to keep out Salah's volley, although Gervinho was offside, and the Verona goalkeeper was immediately called into action again to smother a strike from Radja Nainggolan.
Verona had the best chance of the half minutes before the break, shortly after Szczesny had fingertipped Samuel Souprayen's effort around his post. From the resulting corner, Daniele De Rossi headed Jankovic's looping header off the line. There was no doubt whether that had gone in or not as goal-line technology has been introduced into Serie A from this season.
Verona was again the stronger side after the interval and was prevented from taking the lead in the 56th minute by a stunning double save from Szczesny to deny Emil Hallfredsson and Juanito Gomez.
It was the home side which scored the first goal of the season when Hallfredsson won back possession and put in a cross over the top for Jankovic to volley in at the near post.
Roma was swiftly back on level terms with a 25-yard snapshot from Florenzi. The capital side could have won the match but a Miralem Pjanic screamer flew just past the right upright. Pjanic almost won the match in the final minutes but Rafael made a great save to turn the Bosnia-Herzegovina midfielder's effort onto his post from close range.