Napoli fight back to draw with Barcelona in dull game

NAPLES   -  Napoli fought back to hold visi­tors Barcelona to a dour 1-1 draw in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday as Victor Osimhen cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener. Last year’s Spanish and Italian champions, both struggling this season, played out a poor match in which both sides were tooth­less and lacking attacking flair. Third in the LaLiga standings eight points behind leaders Real Madrid, Barcelona dominated the first half against a disorganised Napoli who barely managed to get out of their own half. “It is not a good result for the return leg,” Barca manager Xavi Hernandez told Movistar Plus. “We were bet­ter in all aspects of the game, we had to control and we struggled, we weren’t effective up front, it was a summary of our season.” 

Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years while Na­poli were led by new coach Fran­cesco Calzona with their Serie A title defence in tatters as they languish ninth in the domestic standings. Napoli were frus­trated by Barca’s high pressing, missing simple passes and gift­ing the ball to the visitors who also looked short of ideas in pos­session. Teenager Lamine Ya­mal, who became the youngest player to appear in the knockout phase of the Champions League at 16 years and 223 days, was also bidding to become the tour­nament’s youngest scorer but he sent an early effort wide and had a strike from distance saved by goalkeeper Alex Meret. Ilkay Gundogan twice shot wide for Barca before Poland striker Le­wandowski broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. He received a pass from Pedri just inside the box and made space to unleash a bullet strike into the bottom corner of the net. That woke Napoli up and Nige­rian Osimhen, playing his first game since the Africa Cup of Nations, equalised 15 minutes later with a fine swivel­ling strike from inside the box to leave the tie evenly poised ahead of the return leg in Spain on March 12.

Napoli 1-1 Barcelona
Porto 1-0 Arsenal

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