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Roma stumble in Serie A as Wijnaldum returns

Roma missed the chance to draw level on points with second-placed Inter in Serie A after drawing 1-1 at lowly Lecce on Saturday as Georginio Wijnaldum made a long-awaited return from injury.

Jose Mourinho’s team moved up to third, level with AC Milan on 41 points, but local rivals Lazio can overtake them if they beat fellow Champions League contenders Atalanta in Saturday’s late game.

Roma made a terrible start when an under-pressure Roger Ibanez turned the ball into his own net from a corner in the seventh minute.

Paulo Dybala equalised from the penalty spot 10 minutes later following a Lecce handball in the area as Roma reacted strongly to the early setback.

But the visitors, buoyed by the return of Netherlands star Wijnaldum from the bench after a lengthy absence caused by a tibia fracture in August, failed to find a winner against 14th-placed Lecce.

The hosts’ goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone shone with a string of saves, denying Tammy Abraham on three occasions.

Empoli scored a stoppage-time equaliser as they recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to relegation-threatened Spezia, in an entertaining contest where both sides were reduced to 10 men. 

Fabiano Parisi was sent off for the hosts in the 21st minute following a VAR review after blocking a goal-bound header from a corner with his arm.

Empoli goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario thought he had saved the resulting penalty by Daniele Verde, but the referee ordered it to be retaken for encroachment, and Verde made no mistake at the second attempt.

Verde gave Spezia a 2-0 lead with a stunning long-range strike in the 31st minute, but Salvatore Esposito’s red card for a second bookable offence shortly after half-time saw the match swing in Empoli’s favour.

Nicolo Cambiaghi halved the deficit with a goal in the 71st minute before Emanuel Vignato’s injury-time equaliser denied what would have been a valuable win for Spezia, who lie in 17th place, five points above the relegation zone.

Olivier Giroud ended AC Milan’s dramatic slump with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Torino at the San Siro on Friday which moved the champions back into the Serie A top four.

The France striker’s header from a Theo Hernandez cross in the second half snapped Milan’s three-match losing streak in the Italian top flight.


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