Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy gave Roma a hard-fought 2-0 win, but Domenico Berardi missed Sassuolo’s penalty.
El Shaarawy marked his debut with a magnificent back-heel flick goal, giving Luciano Spalletti his first win in charge, and Diego Perotti was thrown straight into the line-up just 24 hours after his transfer from Genoa. Kostas Manolas sat out a ban, while Edin Dzeko, Lucas Digne, Vasilis Torosidis, Alessandro Florenzi and Salih Ucan were unavailable. The hosts had one win in seven rounds and missed Simone Missiroli, Karim Laribi and Emanuele Terranova.
Nicola Sansone forced the first save out of Wojciech Szczesny with a snapshot, but Roma took the lead with a splendid Salah left-foot curling finish from the edge of the box, as he cut in from the right. It was his first goal since October 25.
Stephan El Shaarawy had penalty appeals for a coming together with Sime Vrsaljko, while Douglas Maicon and Sansone went close.
Maicon should’ve made it 2-0 on 31 minutes when he went on the counter, a give-and-go with Salah, but once clear on goal he drilled wide of the near post. Moments later Paolo Cannavaro got a decisive touch with El Shaarawy ready to tap in a Salah assist.
Berardi’s screamer flashed just wide and Szczesny smothered a Marcello Trotta effort, but Daniele De Rossi went off with a calf problem.
Szczesny was right behind a Sansone strike and needed a one-handed save on Berardi’s curling shot, while Salah missed a sitter when he aimed straight at the goalkeeper rather than roll across for unmarked Radja Nainggolan.
Sassuolo took control in the second half and Sansone was furious when incorrectly flagged offside during a dangerous attacking move.
Berardi’s powerful header was too central and Sansone’s effort was charged down in the box, as the second half was one-way traffic and a tired Roma sat back.
There was one break in the pressure when El Shaarawy’s chest and volley was spectacularly finger-tipped out from under the bar by Andrea Consigli.
Szczesny was also decisive on Francesco Acerbi’s spin from the edge of the box, but Consigli ran a big risk when he appeared to slide outside the box with the ball still in his arms.
With three minutes to go the referee pointed to the spot, as Nainggolan went sliding into the back of Lorenzo Pellegrini. It was also the Belgian’s second bookable offence. Berardi stepped up, but surprisingly ballooned the penalty over the bar.
Sassuolo kept pushing, but were caught out when Perotti robbed a defender, put Cannavaro to the floor with a dummy and pulled back from the by-line for El Shaarawy’s tap-in.
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Sent off: Nainggolan 87 (R)
Missed penalty: Berardi 88 (S)