Roma held as Benevento get first Serie A win

Milan (AFP) –


Roma suffered a 1-1 stalemate on Saturday which could see them lose ground on leading trio Napoli, Juventus and Inter Milan as newcomers Benevento made history with their first ever Serie A win.

Roma took the lead when Lorenzo Pellegrini scored against his old club Sassuolo just after the half-hour in Rome only for Simone Missiroli to level after 78 minutes at the Stadio Olympico.

Eusebio di Francesco's side have a game in hand but trail leaders Napoli -- who finish the year on top after their 1-0 win against Crotone on Friday -- by nine points.

Champions Juventus could also pull further clear of the Romans when they travel to Verona later Saturday with Inter Milan, in third, hosting Lazio, in fifth.

"We were subdued, in the second half we made too many mistakes," said di Francesco.

"We could have closed down the game but we didn't have the strength to do it and Sassuolo didn't give up. It was an important game to win."

Benevento made history with their first victory in the Italian top flight thanks to a Massimo Coda strike on 64 minutes which earned a 1-0 win at home against Chievo.

Roberto De Zerbi's side sit bottom of the league with four points from 19 games -- their first point coming in a dramatic 2-2 draw against Milan earlier this month.

De Zerbi's team still have a long way to go as they are 11 points off safety, but the coach insisted the victory could be a key one.

"It's an important win because it would have not been easy for me to get back to work on Tuesday trying to motivate 25 people," said De Zerbi.

"It gives us the strength to continue. We've deserved this victory for the past few weeks and now we're already thinking about the next game."

Earlier, Hakan Calhanoglu snatched a point for under-pressure AC Milan in a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina which nevertheless leaves Gennaro Gattuso's side trailing in 11th position.

The Turkish midfielder equalised three minutes after Giovanni Simeone had headed in for the hosts in the 71st minute as Milan came from behind for the first time this season.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off several key saves on his 100th game for Milan.

"Towards the end we even felt like we could win it. I'm really starting to like the never-say-die attitude of this team," said Gattuso after Milan's Italian Cup victory midweek over city rivals Inter Milan.

Milan are 23 points behind Napoli who ensured they end the year with the symbolic title of Winter Champions with a 1-0 win at Crotone.

Captain Marek Hamsik, who last week overtook Diego Maradona as the club's all-time leading scorer, settled the game with his 1l7th goal in a Napoli shirt.

Elsewhere Fabio Quagliarella got two stoppage time goals as Sampdoria beat SPAL 2-0 with Cagliari winning 2-1 away to Atalanta with Udinese beating Bologna by the same score, and Torino held to a goalless draw at home by Genoa.