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Salah scores in difficult win for Roma to revive Champions League hopes
After two draws and a loss in the group stage, Roma was very much in need of something more positive tonight, and Mohamed Salah got them off to a flying start when he opened the scoring in the 2nd minute. He started a counter-attack with a pass to Edin Džeko, who brilliantly returned the ball to him in space. A nice run from Salah ended in a shot to the near post. The keeper got a hand to it but the ball bounced off him into the net.
1.41 – Mohamed Salah has scored the fastest Roma's Champions League goal (1 min, 41 sec). Shock.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) November 4, 2015
Counter-attacks were the talking point in the first half. Despite equal amounts of posession, the way each team attacked was very different. Leverkusen’s attacks came from build-up play and didn’t threaten except on one or two occasions. Roma attacked through dangerous counters on as many as eight occasions. Leverkusen’s high line of defence was severely exposed and Salah, Dzeko and Gervinho found a lot of space.
Roma’s second goal came from one such counter. A great pass from Nainggolan set up Dzeko on a one-on-one with the keeper and the Bosnian put it away to make it 2-0.
Roma could have easily scored more but a great ball from Salah to Dzeko ended in the forward shooting over the bar, before Salah was himself guilty of a couple of counters coming to an abrupt end.
The second half was a different story. In a continuation of the surprise reversals that occured between the two teams a fortnight ago, Bayer Leverkusen turned the game on its head in the space of five minutes, with a goal from Admir Mehmedi in the 46th minute followed by another from Javier Hernandez in the 51st to draw level. Roma seemed to have paid a high price for not putting the game to bed in the first half.
The rest of the second half was a much more even affair, with a couple of attempts from both teams, but none of the spaces left by Bayer for Roma to exploit.
Roma did however have the last word after a scramble in the German box, with Roma players repeatedly trying to find the net. It ended with Salah about to easily tap the ball in, only for Bayer player Omer Toprak to push him from behind at the last moment. Toprak was shown straight red, and Pjanic scored the match winner from the resulting penalty.
In the group’s other game, Barcelona beat BATE 3-0 to reach 10 points. Roma moves from bottom of the group to second place with 5 points. Barcelona and Roma will face off in the upcoming matchday on November 24.