Roma, Barcelona Share Spoils In Epic Encounter

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Defending champions, Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico were unable to take home the maximum points against Roma during the Champions’ League Group E clash.

Luis Suarez drew the first blood following a slick move which ended with Iva Rakitic crossing for the Uruguayan to head home. The game picked momentum and saw Alessandro Florenzi scoring from the halfway line

Both sides were unbeaten in their respective domestic leagues coming into the match but it was Barcelona who gradually took control of the match in the first half, with Suarez heading Jordi Alba’s cross wide of the post.

The visitors pressed to add a second and thought at they should have had a penalty when Suarez tangled with Wojciech Szczesny, but Roma levelled in incredible fashion against the run of play just minutes later.

Right-back Florenzi picked up possession on the right touchline just yards inside the Barcelona half and drove a stunning strike from over the head of Marc-Andre ter Stegen from just past the halfway line.

Messi, impressive on his return to the starting XI, produced a smart stop from Szczesny as his side looked to recover from that bolt from the blue but only a spectacular save from Ter Stegen prevented Radja Nainggolan’s long-range strike giving Roma a barely-deserved lead on the stroke of half-time.

Szczesny saved well from a rasping Messi effort shortly after the restart but the on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper had to be replaced by Morgan de Sanctis after just five minutes of the second half, a substitution which sent the game into something of a lull.

Things burst into life again with 12 minutes remaining when Nainggolan denied the quiet Neymar with a superb block before Messi was unlucky to see his effort from wide come back off the crossbar.

De Sanctis denied Barca skipper Andres Iniesta before Alba’s dinked finish was headed clear in injury-time as Roma clung on for an impressive point against the five-time European champions.

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