A well deserved draw for AS Roma got them a point against defending champions FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, a match which came with controversy, injuries and great goals from both Luis Suarez and Alessandro Florenzi.
Suarez opener overshadowed by goal of the night
It was a familiar sight at the Stadio Olimpico, home of AS Roma. This was Lionel Messi’s 100th Champions League match, playing at the place where he scored the game winner as FC Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 in the 2009 final to give his side their first ever treble.
Messi looked to provide another goal in Italy as early as the 4th minute, but failed to do so when his left footed chance went above Wojciech Szczęsny’s goal. However, it didn’t take too long for the defending European champions to get on the board as they did in the 20th minute from Luis Suarez. As the Argentine magician delivered a ball to Ivan Rakitic on the right side of the pitch, the Croatian midfielder delivered a cross to the striker off a deflection by Roma center back Antonio Rüdiger, and Suarez headed in for his goal.
The Uruguayan was denied a second only four minutes later as his shot was denied by Szczęsny. Roma were able to get some opportunities at Marc-Andre ter Stegen but nothing would beat the wonder goal that was seen in the 31st minute, scored by Florenzi.
Dribbling the ball down the right flank until he was just inside the Barcelona half, Florenzi took his chance from roughly 45 yards, if not a bit more, as his ball flied over ter Stegen, who was off his line, before clipping the bar and hitting the net for not only one of the best goals of the year and in the Champions League so far - but perhaps one of the great UEFA Champions League goals in history.
Messi, who needed four to surpass Cristiano Ronaldo as the tournaments top goalscorer in history, looked to try to level his Portuguese counterpart with a goal but failed to do so throughout the entire first half. The closest he came was a free kick minutes after Roma equalised, which flew wide.
Roma almost took the lead through Radja Nainggolan,as his effort from 25 yards was saved by the German goalkeeper for the last big chance in the first half.
Injuries and missed chances
In the second half, something of an injury plague occurred for both sides. A collision between Suarez and Szczęsny saw the Polish goalkeeper get injured and replaced by veteran Morgan De Sanctis for the remaining 40 minutes. However, in the 67th minute, Rafinha came in for Ivan Rakitic, only for him to be injured just minutes later after a hefty challenge by Nainggolan, in which he was later replaced by Javier Mascherano. The Argentine defender almost was lucky to not concede a penalty after he brought down Nainggolan in the box only minutes later, but referee Björn Kuipers let play continue.
Florenzi looked to possibly get a winner in the 75th minute, only for his effort this time to go blazing above the goal. Barcelona pressed hard to try to secure all three points, as efforts from both Neymar and Messi went wide and hit the woodwork, respectively.
Barcelona nearly got a game winner in the last few seconds of the match as Jordi Alba was unable to finish, allowing Kostas Manolas to take out his ball just in time. In the end, it was a well deserved draw for the Serie A side and a lackluster one for Barcelona.
Great defense from Roma denied the Blaugrana from going forward with many chances and finishing correctly. Roma will now take on Sassuolo in the weekend in Serie A while FC Barcelona take on Levante in La Liga. Both will take on BATE Borisov and Bayer Leverkusen respectively at the end of the month in their next UEFA Champions League outing.