Patrik Schick’s 33rd-minute header ensured Claudio Ranieri made a winning return as Roma boss with a 2-1 victory over struggling Empoli at the Stadio Olimpico, but not without a late scare.
Ranieri, who was in charge of the capital club between 2009 and 2011, returned on a deal until the end of the season after Eusebio Di Francesco’s dismissal last week.
And his second spell started brightly when Stephan El Shaarawy opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a curled effort from 20 yards into the top right corner on his 100th Serie A appearance for the club.
However, that lead lasted just three minutes as centre-back Juan Jesus inadvertently put the ball into his own goal before Empoli came within inches of taking the lead when captain Manuel Pasqual hit a post with a fizzing free-kick in the 15th minute.
Schick restored the hosts’ advantage when the Czech Republic international headed home Alessandro Florenzi’s free-kick from close range at the far post.
Home captain Florenzi was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 80th minute and Empoli thought they had snatched a late point when Rade Krunic found the back of the net in the 89th minute.
But referee Fabio Maresca reviewed the decision on the monitor and, after a lengthy wait, disallowed the goal for a controversial handball by Dimitri Oberlin in the build-up to give Ranieri’s side victory.
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P