Gregoire Defrel had given Sassuolo the lead, but Roma turned it around with Leandro Paredes, Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko.
The Giallorossi were feeling the pressure for second place after crashing out of the Europa League to Lyon on Thursday, as their 2-1 win wasn’t enough to overturn the 4-2 first leg defeat. Edin Dzeko and Daniele De Rossi were rested, as Stephan El Shaarawy became a False 9. Eusebio Di Francesco returned to face his old club and was being touted as a potential successor to Luciano Spalletti. Luca Mazzitelli, Francesco Magnanelli, Marcello Gazzola, Davide Biondini and Luca Antei were injured.
Sassuolo had drawn all three previous trips to the Olimpico, but never beat Roma in Serie A with just those stalemates and four defeats.
There were two huge chances in the opening three minutes, as first Mohamed Salah pounced on a poor Timo Letschert back-pass to sting Andrea Consigli’s gloves, then a Domenico Berardi cross found Gregoire Defrel’s weaker right foot and he fired over at the far post.
Defrel had no problems soon after, as he broke the deadlock when Berardi pulled across from the left and the Frenchman blasted into the roof of the net from 16 yards.
Moments later it was almost 2-0 with a similar move, except this time Defrel’s finish was deflected wide. Salah had the ball in the net, but only after El Shaarawy had strayed offside for the assist.
Roma did equalise with a daisy-cutter from outside the box, as Salah laid it off for Leandro Paredes to drill into the far bottom corner.
It was wide open and immensely entertaining, as Emerson Palmieri’s screamer from a tight angle smashed against the crossbar. On the counter, Wojciech Szczesny used his legs to deny Matteo Politano, sent clear by a Defrel through ball.
Emerson’s decisive interception prevented Sassuolo completing the counter two-against-two, while Antonio Rudiger nodded over from a Kevin Strootman cross.
Defrel had an intelligent back-heel flick, forcing Szczesny to parry from close range. The goalkeeper also flew to punch a Politano strike over the bar.
However, Roma took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Federico Fazio’s through ball released El Shaarawy and although Andrea Consigli got something on the shot, he could do nothing on Salah’s follow-up from a couple of yards.
Defrel and Salah both showed the problem with their weaker foot, scuffing wide from very promising positions, while Kostas Manolas made an important block on Defrel and the Frenchman hurt his ankle in the process.
Dzeko came on for Roma to switch 4-3-3 and almost scored with his first touch, a header over from a corner, then on another Paredes set play the Bosnian’s volley was beaten off the line by Consigli.
Dzeko was evidently fired up and got his goal eventually, completing a give-and-go with Strootman to control and beat Consigli at the near post.
Cristian Dell’Orco’s defensive error sent Dzeko clear moments later, but Consigli made a desperate save one-on-one.
Emerson Palmieri also drilled wide with his left foot, as Sassuolo’s belief and intensity evaporated.