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Barcelona 2 Bayer Leverkusen 1: Suarez completes dramatic comeback

Luis Suarez completed a dramatic late comeback for Barcelona as they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos headed Leverkusen into a deserved lead midway through the first half, and Barca found it hard to break through a well-organised visiting defence.

Neymar struck the post and Sandro – in for the injured Lionel Messi – was denied by a goal-line block but chances were few and far between for the home side, who lost Andres Iniesta to injury in the second half.

But substitute Sergi Roberto pounced in the closing 10 minutes to level the scores and Suarez’s thumping finish snatched an unlikely victory for the holders, who move above Leverkusen at the top of the group.

Camp Nou was deafening prior to kick-off – the UEFA anthem greeted with a chorus of boos – but Javier Hernandez almost silenced the home crowd after less than two minutes, forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a smart save at his near post.

Barcelona responded, Ivan Rakitic placing a header straight at Bernd Leno after Neymar’s delicate cross before the goalkeeper saved superbly from Sandro after the 20-year-old’s brilliant one-two with Suarez.

With the injured Messi watching on, Barca struggled to click going forward and Leverkusen snatched a surprise lead when Papadopoulos flicked home Hakan Calhanoglu’s pacey corner, with Ter Stegen caught out of position.

Leverkusen’s disciplined shape had Barca – and the home crowd – deeply frustrated and only the quick reflexes of Ter Stegen stopped Karim Bellarabi from doubling the lead from close range after he outsmarted Gerard Pique.

Barca’s best chance of the half fell to Sandro, who pounced on a Neymar effort which came off the post only to be denied by a brilliant goal-line block from Papadopoulos.

Hernandez spurned a clear opportunity for a second just after the break when he blazed over from 12 yards when picked out by Bellarabi, and Neymar fizzed a shot wide on the turn.

The Brazil star came close with a free-kick from long-range but Barca were further deflated when Iniesta was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury on the hour mark.

Suarez’s scrambled effort was deflected behind and Pique headed a great chance straight at Leno from the resulting corner, but frustrations began to boil over as Jordi Alba saw yellow for his reaction to a Jonathan Tah challenge.

Just as Leverkusen seemed set for maximum points, Barca found their breakthrough. Suarez’s prodded shot from close range was parried by Leno and Sergi Roberto reacted quickest to poke the ball over the line.

And the Spanish champions completed a dramatic turnaround just a minute later as Suarez curled an emphatic effort into the roof of the net from just inside the area after a fine run from Munir El Haddadi.

Tue 29 Sep, 2015
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