Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UCL: Osimhen on target as Napoli hold Barcelona in round of 16 first leg

Napoli struggled to make an impact in the first 45 minutes, failing to register a shot.

• February 21, 2024
Napoli vs Barcelona
Napoli vs Barcelona [Photo: FC Barca]

Victor Osimhen scored as SSC Napoli secured a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, leaving the fate of the tie hanging in the balance.

Despite the stalemate, Napoli continue their winless streak of five matches against the Catalan side.

The clash featured the reigning Italian champions against the reigning Spanish champions, with Napoli seeing their third manager of the season in Francesco Calzona, who took charge after Walter Mazzarri’s recent dismissal.

Barcelona started the encounter with a high press, creating numerous early chances, particularly through Lamine Yamal, whose shots tested Napoli’s goalkeeper, Alex Meret. 

Lewandowski also came close for Barca in the first half but was thwarted by Meret’s feet after a dynamic run by Joao Cancelo.

Napoli struggled to make an impact in the first 45 minutes, failing to register a shot. The Partenopei showed improvement at the start of the second half, with Matteo Politano’s early header going off target.

However, Barcelona regained control and broke the deadlock in the 60th minute when Pedri found Lewandowski, who displayed composure to score. Napoli’s response came in the 75th minute, as Victor Osimhen, starved of service until then, levelled the score with a smart finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Osimhen’s goal injected life into Napoli and their fans at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Despite the late surge, neither team could secure a winning goal, leaving Calzona content to still be in the tie after being outplayed for a significant portion.

On the opposing side, Xavi expressed frustration at Barcelona’s lack of a killer instinct, acknowledging the need for improvement to secure an appearance in this season’s Champions League quarter-finals.

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