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Delight after Suárez goal / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Barça stormed back in the second half against Bayer Leverkusen to record their first win of this season's Champions League thanks to goals from Sergi Roberto and Luis Suárez in the last 10 minutes of the contest. The Germans had taken the lead after 22 minutes through defender Papadopoulos and had proved a match for Luis Enrique's side in the opening half. Nevertheless, an improved second half show from Barça saw them eventually gain their reward with a show of persistence and self-belief that has been so typical of the team under the Asturian coach.

First half deficit

The first game without Leo Messi following his knee injury against Las Palmas for the blaugranes saw Luis Enrique bring Sandro into the starting line up for the first time ever in the Champions League. Jordi Alba returned to the squad but was left on the bench with Mathieu preferred at left back in the absence of the injured Adriano. Messi or no Messi, Bayer Leverkusen announced their intentions in the second minute of the contest at Camp Nou. Former Real Madrid striker Javier Hernández ghosted in at the near post and only the reactions of Barça keeper Ter Stegen prevented the Germans from taking an early lead. The home side rallied and in the opening 10 minutes, and also in the final few minutes, played their best football of the half. Andrés Iniesta guided his team through the incessant pressing of the Germans as chances for Rakitic and Sandro came and went without being taken.

A shot from Bellarabi after 13 minutes ushered in a spell of dominance for the visitors that they rounded off with the opening goal of the game. Midfielder Kampl should have done better when shooting wide after another quick break by Leverkusen. On 22 minutes the Germans were ahead. Calhanoglu showed his quality from set pieces with Papadopoulos glancing the corner home at the near post in the face of some static defending from the blaugranes.

Bellarabi could have made it 2-0 but Ter Stegen made another reaction save to spare further blushes. Luis Enrique's side rallied at the end of the half, Neymar's deflected shot came back off the post and Sandro's effort on the rebound was somehow kept out by a last ditch block from Papdopoulos. A curling free kick from Rakitic gathered by Leno at the near post was the last action of a difficult first half for the Champions League holders.

A different story in the second

Luis Enrique's half time team talk appeared to have an effect as at the start of the second half there was more pace and intensity about Barça's game. Nevertheless, Bayer were still a threat and on 50 minutes Hernández should really have put them 2-0 up, skying his effort into the stands with just Ter Stegen to beat. Before the hour mark Sandro and Neymar both dragged their efforts just wide as the equaliser felt imminent. Iniesta leaving the field on the hour mark was a blow for the home side, Alba coming on led to a tactical reshuffle with Mascherano moving into midfield. The blaugranes had plenty of the ball but a well-disciplined German defence made life difficult for Luis Enrique's team, just as he had predicted in the pre-game press conference. 1-1 seemed within touching distance on 77 minutes but Neymar's airshot seemed to sum up Barça's evening until a new hero emerged with 10 minutes to go.

Sergi Roberto has gained plaudits this season for his performances at right back but it was at the other end he contributed against Leverkusen, stabbing the ball home from just a few yards out to level things up. Before the celebrations had time to die down, just two minutes on Luis Suárez picked the ball up on the edge of the box and curled a tremendous effort into the top corner to change the mood completely at Camp Nou and seal a morale-boosting victory ahead of their next Champions League fixture away at BATE Borisov.


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