Roma had the better of the second-half after an opening 45 minutes which saw chances at both ends, but the game eventually fizzled out as the two outfits settled for a point.
Roma started the game on the front foot, but failed to produce anything more than a tame Daniele De Rossi free-kick from range, and it was Sampdoria who caused the first real trouble eight minutes in.
Antonio Cassano broke free on the right and chipped a cross into the six-yard area, where Julio Sergio and Nicolas Burdisso collided with each other as they tried to clear. From the resulting corner, Juan managed to deceive Daniele Gastaldello in the air just when it seemed the Blucerchiati centre-half would get a free header on goal.
Roma’s first clear opportunity came soon after. Mirko Vucinic crossed superbly from the left and Francesco Totti performed a superb dummy, allowing the ball to run through to Rodrigo Taddei at the far post, and the Argentine’s controlled volley had to be met with a smart save by Luca Castellazzi.
In what was now developing into an end-to-end contest, Daniele Mannini hit a rocket right-foot volley just wide from Cassano’s left-wing cross, and then Stefano Lucchini was forced to foil Roma at the other end as he rose ahead of Taddei to stifle John Arne Riise’s dangerous cross.
Burdisso was the first man into referee Antonio Damato’s notebook when he brought a new meaning to the term ‘high feet’. His challenge caught Giampaolo Pazzini on the ear, and the subsequent yellow card was inevitable.
Julio Sergio, the hero of last week’s Rome derby, had to show a degree of bravery to smother Cassano’s low cross at the feet of the onrushing Pazzini as Doria upped the ante, but Roma threatened again soon after. A great ball by Matteo Brighi set Simone Perrotta on a run towards goal down the right, but after he pulled the ball back inside, his shot struck Gastaldello flush in the face.
Within minutes Sampdoria had the best chance of the game. Angelo Palombo hit a sweet drive from the left 25 yards from goal, which stung the palms of Julio Sergio. From the corner, Marius Stankevicius rose brilliantly, but his header hit the far post and an off-balance Pazzini failed to steer home his header with the goal gaping.
Roma then launched a period of attacks on the Sampdoria half, but without ever really showing any willingness to get the final ball in. Their biggest hope of a goal came from a penalty shout in the 41st minute when Brighi got a toe to Totti’s left-footed pass before being clattered by Stankevicius. The Giallorossi players surrounded the referee, but it was to no avail as the official waved play on.
De Rossi picked up a knock to his ankle when going in for a 50/50 ball and then the Roma vice-captain seemed to aggravate the injury when stepping awkwardly on the troublesome turf, which was showing real signs of wear and tear by the time the two teams went in level-pegging at half-time.
Roma should have done better in the opening minutes of the second half when Totti’s long-range free-kick broke for Taddei, but his cross to the far post was met by a mix of Perrotta and Burdisso as the team-mates collided and, between them, wasted the opportunity.
Gastaldello joined Burdisso in the referee’s notebook after clattering into Totti as Roma cranked up the pressure on the home goal.
It was all Roma now and Vucinic did brilliantly on the left to shake off his man and play in Perrotta, but the English-born player screwed the ball wide of the near post as Castellazzi charged out to meet him.
As the pressure built on Castellazzi’s goal the Samp keeper was forced into a one-handed save when Totti’s corner was met by the head of Vucinic. Perrotta then met Vucinic’s cross with a far post header but his effort was blocked as the corner count grow ever-greater in Roma’s favour.
From here on in the game became a scrappy affair, littered with rushed tackles and yellow cards as Sampdoria looked to wrestle back some sort of foothold and Roma were left to rue their wasted opportunities.
Both teams will feel as though they should have taken more from the game, but will probably away mutually satisfied with a result which puts both in European positions in the Serie A table.
Kris Voakes, Goal.com