Edin Dzeko, Kevin Strootman come up short for Roma at Juventus
Roma's title hopes took another blow with a defeat at the Allianz Stadium, where they are yet to pick up a single point and on Saturday lost their third straight match to a Scudetto rival.
For three quarters of the match, Juve had Roma in their pocket and Roma needed goalkeeper Alisson on the top of his game. The Brazilian did his best to do what his defence couldn't and stop Medhi Benatia with two fine double saves before the Morocco international smashed home the winner. But once Patrik Schick and Lorenzo Pellegrini replaced Stephan El Shaarawy and the deeply disappointing Kevin Strootman, the Giallorossi finally seemed a team capable of challenging the best and pushed the hosts back into their own box.
The problem was the same one that has afflicted Roma for weeks -- the inability to take chances. Alessandro Florenzi was desperately unlucky to not see his delicate flick of Daniele De Rossi's pinpoint pass clip the bar instead of creep into the net with 10 minutes left, but few Roma fans will be able to digest their Christmas dinner after Schick's incredible stoppage-time miss.
The Czech had a point in his grasp when he burst through on goal after capitalising on an incredible mixup between Giorgio Chiellini and Benatia, but somehow shot straight at Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny, gifting the champions a just-about-deserved home win and leaving his team seven points behind Serie A leaders Napoli.
Other Roma teams would have collapsed once they conceded the first goal but this Roma team are made of sterner stuff defensively. That organisation and commitment allowed them to push Juve back when they finally got their attacking game together, and is what will keep Roma in matches when their forwards flounder.
For most of the match Roma didn't look close to conjuring up a goal, with Edin Dzeko an isolated and frustrated figure who spent more time arguing with the officials than offering a credible goal threat. Most worrying is the static nature of the midfield when the supposed first choice three of Radja Nainggolan, De Rossi and Strootman are on the pitch. It's a shame the winter break isn't coming for another couple of weeks as Roma could do with a chance to take stock.
6 -- Eusebio Di Francesco should be credited with making the right changes to keep his team in the game, but it took him an awful long time to change something when it was clear the system he started with was not hurting Juventus.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 8 - Did so well to almost stop Juve's opener and was on hand to make sure the defeat wasn't bigger with some excellent stops.
DF Alessandro Florenzi, 6 - Hugely unlucky to not see his neat flick creep under the crossbar. Diligent at right-back.
DF Kostas Manolas, 6 - Perfectly decent, unspectacular display that, as with his partner, was ruined by ball-watching on the Juve goal.
DF Federico Fazio, 7 - Saved a couple of certain looking goals, but was one of those ball-watching at Juve's decisive corner.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 6 - Did a decent job on Juan Cuadrado, but lacking the attacking threat he has brought to Roma this season.
MF Radja Nainggolan, 6 - The best of the midfield three, notwithstanding some irritatingly erratic passing.
MF Daniele De Rossi, 6 - Made some crucial blocks and nearly had a cracking assist for Florenzi, but at the same time gave the ball away in really dangerous positions.
MF Kevin Strootman, 5 - Really disappointing night from the Dutchman. Off the pace and lost in a static midfield.
FW Stephan El Shaarawy, 6 - Missed Roma's best chance of the night. Another night to forget.
FW Edin Dzeko, 5 - Only one goal scored since his brace at Chelsea two months ago, and he cut an isolated figure up top.
FW Diego Perotti, 6 - Laid on the chance from which El Shaarawy should have equalised, but did very little else.
FW Patrik Schick, 6 - Excellent when he came on, but that miss ... you simply have to score.
MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, NR -- Made a big difference when he replaced Strootman, adding movement and unpredictable passing to the midfield.
MF Cengiz Under, NR -- Had a half-chance well blocked. Lively in his cameo.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley