clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Tale of Two Halves: Roma 3 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2

In a thrilling match at the Stadio Olimpico (mostly due to Roma's Jekyll and Hyde performance), Roma earned a huge three points to keep their Champions League campaign alive, with scoring coming from Mohamed Salah, Edin Dzeko, and Miralem Pjanic.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Roma got off to a dream start in the match, scoring just two minutes in. After Leverkusen initially ventured into the Roma half of the pitch, the ball was cleared and fell to striker Edin Dzeko, who did well to hold the ball up and deliver a perfect pass to play winger Mohamed Salah in on goal. Salah made no mistake on the breakaway counter, toeing the ball past Leverkusen keeper Bernard Leno, who managed to get only a hand on the shot.

With an early lead in hand, Roma pushed forward searching for more. Relentless pressure saw Leverkusen give up a lot of possession in their own half, which inevitably led to more chances for Roma. Midfielder Miralem Pjanic had a free kick from range in the 21st minute, but it never troubled Leno. The giallorossi doubled their advantage in the 29th minute when midfielder Radja Nainggolan played Dzeko in on goal though, with Dzeko making a fantastic run to beat the Leverkusen defense, and then coolly slotting the ball past the helpless Leno. A minute after scoring, Dzeko had a chance for a brace following yet another Salah break, but he missed an open goal.

Other than nervy moments of back passing to Roma keeper Wojciech Szczesny throughout the first half, there wasn't much to worry about. Leverkusen threatened only once, in the 39th minute, when defender Giulio Donati swung in a ball to Javier Hernandez, who attempted to score with a volley, but Szczesny was there to make the save. Roma went into halftime flying high with a two goal lead.

While the first half was a dream start, the second half was a nightmare, with Leverkusen pulling one back within 30 seconds of the restart. Leverkusen easily worked their way into the Roma box and midfielder Admir Mehmedi fired a shot from the right side that went past a stationary Szczesny. Leverkusen tied the match just minutes after scoring their first when in the 50th minute, Hernandez was played in on goal and beat Szczesny with a well placed shot to the back post.

Roma's situation went from bad to worse when right back Alessandro Florenzi was injured, which forced manager Rudi Garcia to use an early substitution (Maicon) in the 56th minute. Garcia was forced to use another substitution due to injury in the 76th minute, as Maicon was subbed off for Vasilis Torosidis. Roma had stopped leaking goals, but it still seemed like Leverkusen had the momentum.

Momentum was key in this match, and it swung back towards the home team one final time as the second half wound down. In the 78th minute, a chaotic scramble for the ball led to a Daniele De Rossi shot that was spilled by Leno. Salah, sensing opportunity, moved towards the ball to tap it over the line, but was shoved into the goal by Leverkusen midfielder Omer Toprak. Toprak was given a red card and Roma was given the penalty kick, which was converted by Pjanic to hand Roma the 3-2 win.