Domenico Berardi scored with the last kick of the game to ensure that the first official meeting between the two sides ended in a draw. An own goal by Alessandro Longhi looked to have handed the Giallorossi victory, but a string of saves from Gianluca Pegolo kept the Neroverdi in the game. Berardi ensured a share of the spoils and in the process, the co-owned Juventus forward did his parent club a huge favour. For Eusebio Di Francesco, it was a happy return to the club that he won the Scudetto with as a player in 2001.
Francesco Totti and Mattia Destro were not yet ready to return for the home side, however, Gervinho was fit enough for a place on the bench. Mehdi Benatia was suspended, but Leandro Castan lined up in defence after completing his ban.
Pegolo ran out to smother the ball at Marco Borriello's feet and Miralem Pjanic miskicked from the forward's pull back as the home side asked the early questions in the rain.
Sassuolo struggled to get men forward and were restricted to shots from distance. Morgan De Sanctis easily gathered from Berardi, while a Marcello Gazzola daisy cutter zipped comfortably into the goalkeeper's gloves.
The Sassuolo wall did its job to block Pjanic's free kick, before their defence assisted Roma in taking the lead on 19 minutes. Pegolo did well to repel Alessandro Florenzi's shot, but Longhi unwittingly poked the rebound into his own net.
Francesco Magnanelli was booked for a crunching tackle on Borriello, which ended the forward's afternoon on half an hour. He limped off with an ankle injury, forcing Rudi Garcia into a reshuffle. Michael Bradley came on which allowed Pjanic to move into a more advanced role alongside Florenzi and Adem Ljajic.
Florenzi tried to slide Ljajic through on goal, but Pegolo was alert and ran out to gather the ball. Francesco Acerbi almost turned into his own net in first half stoppage time, lunging in to cut Federico Balzaretti's low cross. Pegolo then got down quickly to stop Ljajic's low shot from creeping into the bottom corner.
Eight minutes after the restart, Ljajic was denied a penalty after falling theatrically under Luca Marrone's challenge. Pjanic left his shooting boots in the dressing room, volleying Castan's cross into the ground and well wide of the target.
Pegolo frustrated Roma - in particular Ljajic, with a string of saves to keep the visitors in the game. Florenzi sprayed a first time ball to send the Serbian clear. Ljajic chested the ball down and did everything right, but Pegolo still blocked his effort. The forward then burst past two defenders, only to see his shot pushed past the far post.
After soaking up constant pressure, Sassuolo produced a late surge. Antonio Floro Flores latched onto a poor header by Nicolas Burdisso, but De Sanctis stood firm to save a low shot with his legs. Zaza then sent his header over from a promising position in the box.
Pegolo denied Ljajic for a third time with two minutes to play after the forward found space in the box. Acerbi cleared the rebound to prevent Balzaretti tapping into an empty net. Sassuolo then produced the vital sting in the tail. Zaza headed down Jasmin Kurtic's cross, which saw Floro Flores go down in the box. As everyone debated a potential penalty decision, Berardi reacted quickest to smash the rebound into the top corner.
AS Roma: De Sanctis, Maicon, Burdisso, Castan, Balzaretti, De Rossi, Pjanic, (Caprari 75) Strootman, Florenzi, (Marquinho 84) Borriello, (Bradley 33) Ljajic
Sassuolo: Pegolo; Antei, Bianco, Acerbi; Gazzola, (Kurtic 72) Marrone, Magnanelli, (Zaza 77) Longhi; Berardi, Floro Flores, Missiroli (Farias 64)
Goals: Longhi og 19 (R) Berardi 90 + 4 (S)