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Roma must shake old habits

Roma
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 By Ben Gladwell

Eusebio Di Francesco condemns 'unacceptable' Daniele De Rossi red

Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman believes his side are closing the gap on Juventus and will make a strong title challenge.

Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has criticised Daniele De Rossi for letting the side down after he gave away a penalty and was sent off in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Genoa.

The Giallorossi's five-game winning streak in Serie A came to an end at the weekend as they fell seven points behind league leaders Napoli, with Di Francesco pointing the finger at his club captain.

"Daniele is not a youngster and he knows that," Di Francesco said on Roma's official website. "He's able to take responsibility.

"It's a shame. Daniele knows he made a mistake -- with the technology we have nowadays, you don't get away with that kind of thing.

"But he's part of a team and when we draw or lose, the loss goes for everyone, not an individual. We need to do more work, together, to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

"When we fall short of our opponents in our attitude, things like this -- which are unacceptable -- can happen."

Daniele De Rossi was sent off against Genoa.

De Rossi apologised for his 70th-minute red card which enabled Gianluca Lapadula -- the player he struck inside the penalty area -- to bring the hosts level from the spot.

"It's a moment that I'm incredibly sorry about," De Rossi said on Roma's website. "There's not much to say. We were tussling, I tried to block him with an arm -- the footage is ugly.

"Watching the game against Lazio again, I was a bit concerned with how we were marking [Marco] Parolo and Bastos at corners and made a note that I had to be careful... and instead it went how it went.

"I have to apologise to my teammates, the coach and the fans. I am very sorry -- but we will have to bounce back from this."

Former Roma captain Francesco Totti -- who is now a club director -- leapt to De Rossi's defence, saying that while he had made a mistake, he must be forgiven for it.

"Everybody has the right to get things wrong," he wrote on Twitter. "Yesterday, Daniele made a mistake and he is the first to know it. But nobody can doubt what he has done and what he will do for Roma. He is our captain. Now, let's all work together to get back on track straight away."

The draw ended Roma's club-record sequence of 12 away wins, but Di Francesco hopes it will just be a minor blip.

"We paid for our naivety -- it made things difficult for us," he said. "With 10 men they did have one good chance to score, but we had a couple to score ourselves.

"It's shame because we're developing, but we can't beat ourselves up over it. We're showing that we can really bring the game to our opponents.

"We didn't need this setback -- we've dropped two points."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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