LEVERKUSEN (Reuters) – Bayer Leverkusen squandered a two-goal lead but scored twice in the final minutes to rescue a 4-4 draw against AS Roma in their entertaining Champions League Group E match on Tuesday.
Mexico forward Javier Hernandez struck twice for the hosts, including a fourth minute penalty as Leverkusen looked to be cruising to victory and the Italians suffering a horror start.
But De Rossi, who also scored on Saturday to mark his 500th appearance for the club in their 3-1 win over Empoli, twice caught the defence napping to level.
Bosnian Miralem Pjanic curled in a free kick in the 54th to put them ahead and substitute Iago Falque thought he had won it for the Italians before goals from Kevin Kampl in the 84th and Admir Mehmedi in the 86th drew the hosts level.
Leverkusen remain second on four points with Roma bottom on two. Barcelona are top on seven after beating BATE Borisov.
Leverkusen shot out of the blocks and struck after just four minutes, sending Roma keeper Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way to score with a penalty, awarded for a handball by Vassilis Torosidis.
The Italians, with their backs to the wall after gathering only one point from their opening two group matches, initially struggled with the high-pressing Leverkusen but tested keeper Bernd Leno with Pjanic’s 16th minute effort.
The hosts scored again, however, with Hernandez snatching his second goal from a pinpoint Hakan Calhanoglu pass.
Roma’s defence looked as shaky as in their 3-2 loss to BATE Borisov in their previous game, when they conceded three goals in the opening half hour, but De Rossi cut the deficit in the 29th, tipping the game instantly in Roma’s favour.
The 32-year-old slotted in after a bad clearance from Leno and then slipped into the box to connect with a Pjanic free kick to equalise in the 38th with Leverkusen having inexplicably surrendered control of the game to the Italians.
Roma picked up where they left off and a scintillating run by Gervinho required another good save from Leno but the keeper was helpless when Pjanic curled his free kick over the wall.
Torosidis should have added another in the 70th but Spaniard Falque made amends in the 73rd, tapping in from a Gervinho assist before the late comeback from Leverkusen rescued a point for the Germans.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Clare Lovell)