A spectacular second-half strike from Alessandro Florenzi secured a point for Roma as they began their Serie A campaign with a 1-1 draw at Verona.
Having finished second last term and made several notable loan acquisitions during the close-season, Rudi Garcia’s men are widely expected to be among the front-runners again, but were made to work hard for their point by a pacy and industrious Verona side.
New arrivals Edin Dzeko, Iago Falque, Mohamed Salah and Wojciech Szczesny all made their Serie A debuts for the visitors. And Dzeko produced a lively performance up front, while Szczesny at times kept his side in the game with a string of fine saves.
On a warm night at the Stadio Bentegodi, it was the hosts who looked the better side for much of the first half.
Juan Gomez Taleb fired an early warning shot with a well-struck curling effort before Verona came close to breaking the deadlock twice in as many minutes.
Only a fine fingertip save from Szczesny kept Samuel Souprayen out after he had been played in down the left by Emil Hallfredsson and then Daniele De Rossi was on hand to clear a Bosko Jankovic header off the line.
Roma’s best chances of the opening period, meanwhile, fell to Dzeko, who was narrowly off target with an angled volley after 17 minutes, and Belgian international Radja Nainggolan, who forced a decent save from Rafael.
Verona continued to look more threatening after the break, Szczesny forced to deny Hallfredsson and Taleb in quick succession before the home side’s pressure finally told on the hour mark.
The lively Hallfredsson provided the cross and Jankovic was on hand at the far post to steer the ball home.
Within five minutes, however, the visitors were back on level terms courtesy of a stunning long-range strike from Florenzi.
That equaliser seemed to lift Rudi Garcia’s men, who seized the initiative in the final quarter and came close to snatching a winner in the dying seconds when Rafael pulled off a superb point-blank save to foil Miralem Pjanic.
And there was still time for Rafael to produce yet more heroics, keeping out a Nainggolan header and ensuring that the hosts emerged with a well-deserved point.
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