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 By Terry Daley

Thomas Vermaelen, Juan Jesus fail to fire in Giallorossi debuts

AS Roma appeared to have had the opening leg of their Champions League playoff match against Porto by the scruff of the neck following Felipe's 21st-minute own goal on Wednesday, before promptly melting down in front of the Dragoes exciting-but-flaky attack.

Andre Silva levelled the score for the hosts just after the hour following Emerson Palmieri's handball, and Roma could count themselves very lucky that the Portuguese club's finishing was as poor as it was after Thomas Vermaelen's red card left them a man down with nearly 50 minutes to spare.

Coach Luciano Spalletti will hope that his side don't defend as badly next week in Rome as they did tonight, otherwise they'll be dropping down to the Europa League, away goal or no away goal.

Positives

Roma were excellent in the first 20 minutes, and should have already been leading before Felipe shinned the opener into his own net.

Having the away goal to take back to Rome is undoubtedly a huge bonus, while to get a draw after the pounding they took in the second half is one hell of a good result. New goalkeeper Alisson proved himself worthy of the big stage with a series of excellent saves.

Negatives

Losing Antonio Rudiger and Mario Rui in the preseason is undoubtedly bad luck, but there can be no excuse for the way Roma defended on Wednesday. Porto must be wondering how they're not taking a two or three goal lead to defend at the Stadio Olimpico after creating a host of chances to bury the visitors.

What is especially worrying is the way new boys Vermaelen and Juan Jesus struggled on their competitive Roma debuts. Edin Dzeko, meanwhile, remains an enigma up front.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- With a goal lead to protect and only 10 men, Spalletti's decision to stay with three midfielders to face Porto's second-half onslaught seems questionable to say the least.

FC PortoFC Porto
AS RomaAS Roma
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Leg 1
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Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 7 -- Made a crucial save from Silva just after Roma took the lead, and was his side's best defensive performer.

DF Alessandro Florenzi, 6 -- Whipped in a fantastic cross for Roma's opener, but was otherwise sloppy in possession and looked ill at ease with Porto's wing play.

DF Kostas Manolas, 5 -- Usually a rock at the heart of Roma's defence, the Greek was afflicted with the same generosity as the rest of his team. A night to forget.

DF Thomas Vermaelen, 4 -- Sent off three minutes before the break after stupidly pushing up on his own to play Silva offside. Fingers crossed this isn't a sign of things to come, because it wasn't very good.

DF Juan Jesus, 4 -- The Brazilian never looked comfortable at left-back for Internazionale and he was shaky both there and at centre-back tonight. Spalletti has to be worried about the quality of his summer reinforcements.

MF Radja Nainggolan, 6 -- Not the Belgian's best day at the office. Did little of note in his advanced role and looked stranded in the middle of a tornado once his team went down to 10 men.

MF Daniele De Rossi, 7 -- The Roma captain was one of the few who held his own as chaos gripped Roma in the second half, making some big blocks and providing excellent cover.

MF Kevin Strootman, 7 -- The Dutchman made seven tackles on Wednesday night, more than any player, and it was great to see him paying so little attention to his troublesome knee during a combative display.

FW Mohamed Salah, 6 -- Unlucky not to score with a early scoop over Porto stopper Iker Casillas but, like the rest of his team, he faded quickly after a promising start.

FW Edin Dzeko, 5 -- Left his preseason shooting boots in the dressing room, adding another missed sitter to his Roma collection in the 13th minute. Isolated as the match wore on.

FW Diego Perotti, 4 -- So far below par that being substituted for Emerson just before the break was his biggest contribution to the match.

Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen's AS Roma debut did not go as planned.

Substitutes

DF Emerson Palmieri, 5 -- Unlucky to give away the spot kick that Silva equalised with, but looked just as wobbly as the rest of Roma's backline

MF Leandro Paredes, N/R -- Why the Argentine wasn't brought on earlier to beef up Roma's three-man midfield is anyone's guess. He deserved more than the five minutes he got here.

Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley

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