* Roma held to fourth straight draw
* Genoa fans boycott first 10 minutes (Recasts after Roma match)
By Jacopo Lomonaco
ROME, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Second placed AS Roma were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Empoli after both Serie A sides were reduced to 10 men before halftime on Saturday.
Roma’s fourth straight draw dealt a blow to their title hopes and left them on 43 points, six adrift of leaders Juventus who play mid-table Udinese on Sunday. Napoli, at Chievo Verona on Sunday, are third on 36.
“The wheel of fortune isn’t turning our way,” coach Rudi Garcia, whose side have not won at home since Nov. 30, told Sky Sports Italia.
Roma went a goal down in the 39th minute when Massimo Maccarone scored from the penalty spot after Riccardo Saponara was brought down by Greek international defender Kostas Manolas.
Manolas was shown a red card but Empoli’s advantage was short-lived, with Saponara himself sent off in the closing seconds of the first half for a second yellow after he handled the ball.
Roma equalised in the 57 minute with a curling left foot effort from Maicon into the far corner. The home side came close to a second five minutes later when Davide Astori’s header hit the crossbar off of a corner kick.
Empoli are 16th on 20 points, two above the relegation zone.
In the earlier game, Genoa fans protesting against refereeing ‘injustices’ boycotted the first 10 minutes of their side’s 1-1 home draw against Fiorentina and departed still angry after another controversial decision.
The fans arrived in time to see Genoa take the lead in the 14th minute after Stefano Sturaro’s shot hit the far post and rebounded into the net off Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu’s head.
Fiorentina then equalised through Gonzalo Rodriguez in the 54th minute despite the goal appearing to be just offside, and Genoa ended the game with 10 men after Nicolas Burdisso was sent off in the 81st for a second yellow.
“It was unfortunate,” Genoa manager Gian Piero Gasperini told Sky Sports Italia, referring to the visitors’ goal. “Five goals that we gave up in the last four games should have been disallowed.”
The match started with Nicola Rizzoli, who refereed last year’s World Cup final in Brazil, in charge but he was forced to hand over his position to his assistant in the 33rd minute after pulling his right calf muscle.
Genoa haven’t won in seven games and have fallen from third to seventh place on 29 points. Fiorentina, who were playing without their Chelsea-bound luminary Juan Cuadrado, are sixth, three points ahead. (Editing by Alan Baldwin and Ian Chadband)