AS Roma had forward Pedro sent off, a goal disallowed and coach Paulo Fonseca also dismissed in a five-minute spell before half time but still held on for a 0-0 draw at home to Sassuolo in a stormy top-six Serie A clash on Sunday.
The match, played in relentless rain at the Stadio Olimpico, took a dramatic twist in the 40th minute when Pedro, who had already been booked, naively committed a tactical foul in midfield and was given a second yellow card.
Shortly afterwards, Roma thought they had taken the lead when Henrikh Mkhitaryan finished off a counter-attack. However, after a long VAR review, the goal was chalked off amid Roma protests for a foul by Edin Dzeko.
Roma continued to remonstrate with the referee after the half time whistle and Fonseca was ordered off in the confusion.
He was still angry after the game, saying that Pedro's first yellow card should not have been given.
"The episodes speak for themselves, things have happened that I cannot understand. How can you give a yellow for Pedro's first foul?" Fonseca said. "I just asked the referee why he gave us four yellow cards in the first half for very few fouls."
He added that Pedro Obiang should have been sent off in the second half for a foul on Lorenzo Pellegrini. "Maybe the referee didn't see it clearly, but VAR should have done," he said.
Curiously, Roma looked more dangerous in the second half as they sat back and tried to catch Sassuolo on the break.
Sassuolo substitute Lukas Haraslin thought he had given Sassuolo the lead with a spectacular effort from 25 metres but another VAR review showed that he was a fraction offside and the goal was also disallowed.
Almost immediately, Roma broke up the other end and Mkhitaryan shot centimetres wide. Sassuolo nearly grabbed a winner deep into stoppage time but Mehdi Bourabia's header from a corner flew wide.
Sassuolo, fourth in the standings with 19 points, stayed one point and one place ahead of Roma although Napoli (17 points) were away to Crotone later on Sunday and could overtake both sides with a win.