Milan: Verona forward Juan Gomez came off the bench to level late and secure a 2-2 draw at home to Juventus as the champions let slip the chance to extend their lead on misfiring Roma on Sunday.
Roma were away to Lazio in the city derby only four days after a 3-2 win over Napoli in the first leg of the Italian Cup semi-final.
But despite shading what was a rough and tumble encounter at the Olympic Stadium, Rudi Garcia’s men failed to grab the win that would have reduced their deficit on the Bianconeri to seven points with a game in hand.
Draws for both title challengers meant Juventus retained their nine-point lead over the Giallorossi, with Napoli, who outclassed AC Milan on Saturday, now only four points off second place in third.
With Napoli virtually out of the title equation, it remains a two-horse race for this season’s scudetto and Garcia, whose side have yet to play a postponed match against Parma, appeared defiant.
“We have to look on the bright side because we haven’t lost any points to Juventus,” the Frenchman told Sky Sport Italia.
“Their draw adds even more value to our 3-1 win [away to Verona two weeks ago]. But we have to remain humble. We have yet to play Parma and that’s a game we still have to win.”
Juventus looked to be on their way to a comfortable win in the north east after a Carlos Tevez double inside 21 minutes.
However Luca Toni reduced the arrears just after the restart and Juan Gomez headed past Gianluigi Buffon in the fourth minute of injury time as Juve’s defence lost focus at a late free kick.
Juve coach Antonio Conte told Sky: “These kinds of games last 95 minutes, and we should never lose our concentration, especially in dead-ball situations.
“There were other lapses of concentration in the second half and hopefully this will serve us well. We have to be conscious of the fact this title is not won yet.”
Trailing 2-0, Verona’s woes deepened just after the half hour when their claims for a penalty were waved off despite the ball clearly coming off the arms of defender Martin Caceres following a corner.
The hosts earned some rough justice when striker Toni headed home seven minutes after the restart to reduce the arrears.
Ironically, Toni and several other Verona players appeared to have breached Juve’s defence as Romulo whipped in a free kick that Toni headed past Buffon at the keeper’s near post.
Former Southampton striker Pablo Dani Osvaldo made his Juve debut when he replaced Llorente on 65 minutes and missed scoring by inches when he swiped Andrea Pirlo’s through ball past Rafael and off the post.
Buffon then produced a fine one-handed save to keep out Toni’s left-footed strike and Verona had another penalty claim denied after the ball came off the arm of Stephan Lichsteiner as the Swiss marked Toni at Buffon’s near post.
Juve continued to threaten, however, and Arturo Vidal tested Rafael with a strike that the keeper did well to push over.
But the visitors were stunned at the death.
The hosts won a free kick to the right of Juve’s area, it was quickly taken and Romulo whipped in a cross which Gomez headed past Buffon after slipping between Angelo Ogbonna and Pogba.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling… and feels really special taking a point from such an epic side,” said Gomez.
In Sunday’s late game, veteran defender Walter Samuel headed a 48th minute winner past Gianluca Pegolo to secure a 1-0 win for dominant Inter Milan at home to Sassuolo.
Inter routed Sassuolo 7-0 away at the start of the season but although the league newcomers remain in the relegation zone there was to be no repeat as Pegolo saved the visitors on several occasions.
Inter’s win moved them up to fifth at the expense of Verona following their earlier defeat.