Roma held by Udinese ahead of Arsenal match
© AFP

Ten-man Roma missed the chance to move into the top four in Serie A as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Udinese at Rome's Stadio Olimpico. In many ways, Roma were lucky to escape with a point after Udinese were denied a blatant first half penalty, while the hosts had to survive the last quarter of the game with a numerical disadvantage following the dismissal of Daniele De Rossi. Roma coach Luciano Spalletti had been hoping for a 50th birthday present against his former club, but instead his side wasted a number of chances to win and move up to fourth.

Brazilian Felipe had given Udinese the lead nine minutes into the second period, but substitute Mirko Vucinic rescued a point for Roma just past the hour mark. Roma possibly had one eye on next week's UEFA Champions League second leg clash against Arsenal, in which they trail 1-0 from the first leg in London, because they failed play with any spark throughout a largely dull match.

They had the best of the early chances as Marco Motta got down the right and teed up Brazilian Rodrigo Taddei, but he failed to hit the target. At the other end, Antonio Floro Flores should have converted a cross from Antonio Di Natale, but failed to even make contact with the ball.

The most controversial moment of the game came right at the end of the first half as Switzerland midfielder Gokhan Inler burst into the Roma box only for France defender Philippe Mexes to clearly handle the ball. It was an offence seen by nearly everyone except somehow not the referee.

Justice seemed to be served on 54 minutes when Di Natale crossed for the unmarked Felipe to score easily with a header at the back post, after a period of Udinese domination. But Spalletti threw Vucinic into the fray and he ran unchallenged across the Udinese box before shooting home right-footed to restore parity. De Rossi then got his marching orders somewhat harshly after arguing with the referee.