Barça settles for draw with Roma, Valencia loses to Zenit

Madrid, Sep 17 (IANS/EFE) Alessandro Florenzi’s thunderbolt from more than 40 metres allowed Roma to draw with mighty Barcelona in their Champions League Group E opener on Wednesday, while Zenit spoiled Valencia’s return to the top European club competition.

Luis Suarez scored on a header in the 21st minute to give the reigning champions a 1-0 lead at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

Just 10 minutes later, Florenzi beat Barça goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen from a distance measured by Fox Sports 1 television at 64.4 yards.

Roma managed to contain the potent Barcelona offence and preserve the draw.

For the fans at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, Wednesday’s Group H contest was a rollercoaster ride as they watched their heroes fall behind 2-0 in the first half only to come back in the second period with two goals of their own.

The rejoicing didn’t last long, however, as Axel Witsel scored for the visitors in the 76th minute to make it 3-2, three minutes after Valencia got their second.

Bayern Munich topped Olympiacos 3-0 in a Group F match that was closer than the score would indicate, as the German side’s first goal came only in the 52nd minute.

In the same group, Arsenal, a clear favorite over Dinamo Zagreb, experienced one of the meltdowns that have become all too frequent for the Gunners in Champions League play.

After giving up an unfortunate own goal in the 24th minute, the visitors saw striker Olivier Giroud sent off five minutes before half-time after he picked up a second yellow card and conceded a second goal 10 minutes into the second half.

Theo Walcott got a late consolation goal for Arsenal to make the final score 2-1.

Chelsea, who have been struggling in the Premier League, cruised to a resounding 4-0 victory in Group G at Stamford Bridge over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, leaving the Blues as the only English side to win their opening match of the 2015-2016 Champions League.

A strike in the 89th minute by Vitaly Buyalskiy allowed Dynamo Kiev to salvage a 2-2 draw with visiting Porto, leaving the Ukrainian and Portuguese outfits on second and third place in Group G.

Gent and Olympique Lyon battled to a 1-1 deadlock in Wednesday’s other Group H match.

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