Alessandro Florenzi scored a remarkable equaliser from near the halfway line as the Giallorossi held the champions in their Group E opener.
Roma held UEFA Champions League holders Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico as Luis Suárez’s opener was cancelled out by a memorable Alessandro Florenzi effort from near halfway.
Barcelona soon eased into their routine possession-based game which, while seeming to cause plenty of concern to the home fans, did not appear to cause the Roma players any chagrin. Rudi Garcia’s men showed sponge-like qualities in soaking up the Blaugrana’s attacks, Antonio Rüdiger excelling with some timely interventions.
When the German defender, making his first UEFA Champions League appearance and only second for the Giallorossi, was caught out of position, Barça struck with malice. Ivan Rakitić stole in around the back, and his cross just needed Suárez to connect at the far post to put the visitors in front. He obliged.
Roma’s response was not to panic, but to remain faithful to their chosen game plan. With the pace of Mohamed Salah and Edin Džeko, they started to pull the Barcelona defenders out of position, but it was a moment of genius from Florenzi which saw them level.
The 24-year-old midfielder, playing as an emergency full-back, spotted Marc-André ter Stegen off his line and released an audacious lob from the touchline barely ten metres inside the Barcelona half, finding the very far corner of his target, off the inside of the upright.
Roma gained confidence and a Radja Nainggolan effort gave Ter Stegen more work to do before half-time. Lionel Messi checked Wojciech Szczęsny had emerged for the second half, although the Roma custodian was forced to leave the field within minutes of the restart due to an injury, Morgan De Sanctis taking his place.
Barca were also forced into an unplanned change with Rafinha leaving the field injured seconds after coming on to replace Rakitić. As the minutes ticked by, Barca raised their game a notch with Neymar’s shot deflected wide and Messi lifting an effort onto the crossbar, but their late assaults were repelled by a solid Roma defence, who preserved a promising point for the Italian side against the holders.