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Late Barcelona comeback shatters Leverkusen

Barcelona 2-1 Leverkusen
Trailing with ten minutes left, Barcelona equalised through Sergi Roberto and won the Group E points thanks to Luis Suárez's curling strike.

Highlights: Barcelona 2-1 Leverkusen
Highlights: Barcelona 2-1 Leverkusen
  • Kyriakos Papadopoulos heads Leverkusen into a first-half lead
  • Sergi Roberto equalises with ten minutes remaining
  • Luis Suárez curls in the winner, prompting wild celebrations at the Camp Nou
  • Barcelona captain Andrés Iniesta limps off after 60 minutes
  • Next matches: BATE Borisov v Barcelona, Leverkusen v Roma (20 October)

A late goal from substitute Sergi Roberto and a phenomenal Luis Suárez finish gave Barcelona a thrilling 2-1 victory against Bayer Leverkusen in UEFA Champions League Group E.

Marc-André ter Stegen and Bernd Leno had made eye-catching saves by the time the visitors took the lead. The home keeper did superbly to block Javier Hernández's volley in the opening seconds, while Leno had to leap to catch Ivan Rakitić's free header and then parry Sandro Ramírez's goal-bound shot.

Yet when Hakan Çalhanoğlu took the 22nd-minute corner which led to the opener there was defensive fallibility. Barcelona's part zonal, part man-to-man system misfunctioned. Jérémy Mathieu did not jump at the front post, Ter Stegen was out of position and the merest touch from Kyriakos Papadopoulos diverted the ball in.

The drama continued unabated. Ter Stegen was lectured by Suárez for his part in the goal but almost immediately produced a vital contribution by parrying Karim Bellarabi's close-range effort with a strong arm.

At the other end, a sublime volleyed pass from Rakitić led to chaos as Neymar's shot slithered off the far post and Sandro's follow-up attempt was cleared off the line by Papadopoulos.

Barcelona's second-half display was stronger, Neymar putting a 55th-minute effort narrowly wide of one post and a 64th-minute free-kick a whisker away from the other. Hernández then missed a glorious chance for Bayer and was immediately replaced.

With Rafinha and Lionel Messi out for months the sight of Andrés Iniesta limping off with a hamstring injury just after the hour must have been as painful as the scoreline for Luis Enrique. Sergi, however, gave the Barcelona coach reason to smile when he followed up after Leno had denied Suárez.

Two minutes later Enrique was off the bench in celebration. Munir El Haddadi worked his way into the box from right and passed back to Suárez, who curled in a fine strike.

Key player
Hard to pick between the mature, confident, relentless work of Lars Bender and Christoph Kramer or Papadopoulos, who scored and cleared a certain goal off the line. But Suárez's finish was so crucial, so powerful and dramatic that he is impossible to ignore.

Where the match almost turned
Leverkusen stole a trick from the Barça book with extraordinary pressing. The European champions found it terribly difficult to break through as the visitors worked with athleticism and intelligence, resulting in frustration and errors. But sometimes mercurial talent wriggles free Houdini-style right at the end.

©AFP/Getty Images
©Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images