Alessandro Florenzi’s amazing strike from 50 metres cancelled out Luis Suarez, as Roma held Barcelona 1-1.
Elsewhere in Group E, Bayer Leverkusen crushed BATE Borisov 4-1.
The Giallorossi started their Champions League campaign against the reigning trophy holders and Luis Enrique returned to the Olimpico after taking them to seventh in Serie A in 2011-12. Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, Thomas Vermaelen, Douglas and Bravo were all injured, so Jeremy Mathieu moved into central defence.
Leo Messi was making his 100th Champions League appearance and blasted an early effort over the bar. Every time Mohamed Salah broke into a sprint, the crowd got to its feet, and Edin Dzeko’s roll across for the Egyptian was intercepted by Ivan Rakitic. Dzeko had sparked the move by nutmegging Gerard Pique in midfield.
Messi ballooned over again from 11 yards, then Daniele De Rossi blocked his shot after a give-and-go with Neymar.
It had been going well, but Messi trod on Lucas Digne and Rakitic’s cross was deflected for Luis Suarez to nod in from a yard at the back post. Rudi Garcia felt it was a foul on Digne.
Moments later, Luis Suarez went down under a challenge from Wojciech Szczesny, but the referee waved away penalty appeals because the striker had already played the ball.
Roma equalised in the most extraordinary fashion, as out of nowhere Florenzi on the right flank saw Marc-Andre Ter Stegen off his line and released a lob from midfield. It slowly dipped to bounce in off the woodwork, stunning Barcelona into silence and sending the Stadio Olimpico wild. Incredibly, it was the homegrown talent’s first ever Champions League goal and he scored it from 50 metres out!
Messi tested Szczesny at the near post and fired a free kick well over. Radja Nainggolan unleashed a fierce strike from distance that forced Ter Stegen to beat it away, while Salah then blasted over after another sprint.
Straight after the restart, Luis Suarez tried to back-heel from a couple of yards and then left his foot in on Szczesny, injuring the little finger and thumb on his left hand, so Morgan De Sanctis had to come on.
Rafinha came off the bench and within 90 seconds was felled by Nainggolan, the bookable offence forcing him to be stretchered off with a suspected sprain.
Roma had their own penalty appeals, as Javier Mascherano had both arms around Nainggolan’s neck as he fell in the area.
Florenzi blasted over and Neymar’s turn was deflected for a corner off Kostas Manolas, but on 77 minutes Messi took advantage of a lucky bounce to smack on the volley against the crossbar.
Andres Iniesta combined with Neymar and De Sanctis made himself big at the near post to parry the finish. An exhausted Florenzi was substituted to a standing ovation from the Stadio Olimpico, including from Spanish reporters in the Press box.
Deep into stoppages, Nainggolan stopped Pique nodding in a corner at the back post. Jordi Alba's volley had beaten De Sanctis, but Kostas Manolas got back for a decisive goal-line clearance.
Roma 1-1 Barcelona
Scorers: Luis Suarez 21 (B), Florenzi 32 (R)
Roma: Szczesny (De Sanctis 50); Florenzi (Torosidis 85), Rudiger, Manolas, Digne; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Keita; Falque (Iturbe 82), Dzeko, Salah
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Mathieu, Jordi Alba; Rakitic (Rafinha 61) (Mascherano 65), Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Ref: Kuipers (NED)
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