Napoli 1-1 Barcelona: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened | Champions League


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The view from Naples, with Colum Fordham. “Naples calling. What with the change of coach, from Walter Mazzari to Calzona, Napoli will be satisfied with a draw against Barcelona. My students in Naples were pessimistic about tonight’s match after the pathetic 1-1 draw with Genoa but my local grocer Gino was upbeat and thought they’d perform. Which they did, all things considered. Osimhen was tired from the African Cup but showed his class. As did Kavara every so often. Should be a good return match.”

Barca will be the happier of the two teams, coming away from what used to be one of the hardest places to go in Europe with a precious draw. But they’ll wonder if they could have scored another, or at least held onto the lead given to them so clinically by Robert Lewandowski. They were the better team for 74 minutes, even if that wasn’t saying a great deal. But then Napoli won’t be too unhappy either. They were dreadful for the most part, utterly toothless, only for Victor Osimhen to haul them back to parity with his hustle. At least now they’ll take something to Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in three weeks’ time. For a long while, it looked as though they’d be taking nothing at all.

The two goalscorers greet each other at the end of the game. Photograph: Ciro de Luca/Reuters

FULL TIME: Napoli 1-1 Barcelona

The champions of Italy salvage a draw with the champions of Spain. Will either end the season as champions of Europe? On this evidence, it’s unlikely.

90 min +4: Lewandowski makes a nuisance of himself on the edge of the Napoli box. The ball breaks to Gundogan, who curls towards the bottom left. Just wide. The ball rebounds and ripples the side netting. Half of the stadium thinks it’s gone in. But no. A brief silence before everyone breathes again.

90 min +3: Raspadori tries to dribble upfield from deep, only to nearly run into the referee. He turns tail and gives Meret a difficult backpass. The keeper hacks clear, then moans quite a lot.

90 min +2: … so having said that, Cancelo nearly releases Felix down the left with a probing pass. Rrahmani hooks clear.

90 min +1: Barca stroke the ball around the back. If they could declare, they would.

90 min: There will be four added minutes.

89 min: Napoli look most likely to find a winner. Simeone sends a speculative effort over the bar from 25 yards. Not far over.

87 min: João Félix and Oriol Romeu come on for Andreas Christensen and … let me get back to you. Uefa haven’t been on top of the old graphics tonight. Pedri.

85 min: The second of those corners leads to some bagatelle in the Barca box. Lewandowski shins over his own bar in a panic. Then Raspadori fires a third corner of the sequence towards Zambo Anguissa, rushing in at pace towards the near post. Zambo Anguissa powers a header wide right from close range. A big miss. Had that been on target, ball and net would already be halfway to the Amalfi Coast.

84 min: Another corner for Napoli, as newly arrived sub Raspadori earns a couple of corners down the right.

82 min: All of a sudden, Napoli look willing and able to find a second. Lindstrom busies himself down the right and wins a corner. That comes to nothing, but Barca look a little bit rattled having been hit with that sudden sucker-punch.

80 min: The resulting free kick is a waste of time. Raphinha replaces Yamal.

78 min: Christensen goes into the book as he cynically hauls down Lobotka, who had spun him 30 yards out. He joins his team-mate Martinez in the referee’s pad; Martinez was yellow-carded for suggesting too forcefully that he’d been fouled by Osimhen ahead of the goal.

77 min: That goal had really not been coming. It was Osimhen’s last touch of the ball, as he’s replaced by Simeone. The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona finally making some noise!

GOAL! Napoli 1-1 Barcelona (Osimhen 75)

They have now! This has come out of absolutely nothing. Zambo Anguissa strides infield from the left. He passes low towards Osimhen, just inside the box with his back to goal and Martinez behind him. Osimhen spins, Martinez stumbles, Osimhen shrugs him off and slots into the bottom left! Napoli were going nowhere, but now look!

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen shoots … Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters
Scores … Photograph: Ciro de Luca/Reuters
Then celebrates putting the home side back on level pegging. Photograph: Ciro de Luca/Reuters

74 min: Politano attempts to storm into space down the right but his purposeful run is stopped by De Jong, who steps across to take charge and usher the ball out for a goal kick. Napoli still haven’t had a shot on target.

72 min: Osimhen twists, turns and attempts to juggle his way into some space in the Barca box. But there is none. This is a hugely frustrating evening for the striker, who like the aforementioned Kvaratskhelia will also fill plenty editions of the Rumour Mill as Napoli’s dismal season threatens to go from bad to even worse.

70 min: To be fair to Napoli coach Francesco Calzona, Kvaratskhelia had achieved the square root of bugger all.

69 min: A double change for Napoli, as Hamed Traorè and Jesper Lindstrøm come on for Jens Cajuste and an absolutely furious Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Napoli’s star man throws his gum down in irritation before stomping around the perimeter of the field with a black cartoon cloud over his head and a fierce cob on. Transfer rumours ahoy!

67 min: Di Lorenzo works hard down the right. One cross is cleared by Martinez, another blocked by Pedri. The home captain trying his hardest to haul his team back into this.

66 min: Meret makes up for his boo-boo by confidently claiming the corner.

65 min: A free kick for Barca out on the right. Most inside the Napoli box. Gundogan can’t clear the first man. But Napoli can’t clear, and the ball breaks to Pedro, who whips a speculative shot goalwards from the edge of the D. It’s straight at Meret, who parries in unconvincing fashion. The ball balloons into the air, then nearly drops back down into the top left. Inches wide. The keeper so lucky to get away with that.

64 min: Napoli try to hit back through Politano, who advances down the right. But his low cross is headed behind by De Jong, then Ter Stegen deals with the resulting corner. Barca have seriously quietened the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

62 min: That ends a run of four Champions League games without a goal for Lewandowski. He didn’t have a whole lot of space in which to fashion the shooting opportunity … but goodness he managed it nonetheless. That was in the minute it left his boot.

GOAL! Napoli 0-1 Barcelona (Lewandowski 60)

They’re whistling now all right. Pedri slips a clever pass down the inside-left channel for Lewandowski, just inside the box. Lewandowski takes a touch to the right, stepping away from Di Lorenzo and Jesus, and fires a low drive into the bottom left. Simple as that, and Meret had no chance to save!

Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski shoots … Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters
And scores. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters
Then celebrates. Photograph: Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

59 min: Barca stroke it around to little effect, other than irritating the home fans, who are back at the whistling again.

58 min: Barca have done well to subdue Napoli’s post-hairdryer verve. They’re beginning to assert a little control.

56 min: Martinez clanks Osimhen to the ground as the striker battles down the right. A leg hung out in the agricultural style. The Barca defender is pretty lucky to avoid a booking. Napoli load the box, but nothing comes of the resulting free kick.

55 min: Gundogan finds Lewandowski on the edge of the D. The former Manchester City star spins and tries to release Pedri down the left channel, but overcooks the pass. That would have been a lovely move had the final ball found its target.

53 min: Politano thinks he’s won a corner down the right but the referee and linesman disagree. While the hosts quibble, Barca quickly go up the other end, Cancelo crossing low from the left. With yellow shirts lurking in the middle, waiting to slam home, Jesus does extremely well to telescope a leg and divert the ball out for a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece.

51 min: Gundogan romps down the right and larrups a wild shot high and wide right. He had nobody up with him, so he was within his rights to roll the dice.

50 min: A bit of grass for Osimhen to run into down the left. He knows he’s offside, though, and though he cuts infield and shoots, it’s not with any great belief. He grimaces, wearing the look of a man not best pleased with the level of service he’s getting this evening.

49 min: De Jong finds Yamal in space down the right. The young man cuts back for Gundogan, who opens his body and attempts to pass the ball into the bottom right. He doesn’t catch it at all and it’s an easy snaffle for Meret.

48 min: Lewandowski and Gundogan twist and turn on the edge of the Napoli box, but there’s no getting past Rrahmani and Jesus.

46 min: Napoli didn’t get an effort on target in that first half. They’ve clearly had their hair thoroughly dried by their new coach Francesco Calzona during the break, as they come straight out of the blocks, Kvaratskhelia crossing for Politano, who heads wide right. Still no effort on target, but, well, y’know. That’s better.

Napoli get the second half started. No changes. “Will either of these teams win the Champions League?” wonders Peter Oh. “I suspect the letter on the home side’s badge provides a clue to the answer.”

HALF TIME: Napoli 0-0 Barcelona

… and it comes up one second after the clock ticks round to 45. This hasn’t been great.

44 min: Both teams would benefit from some advice. Just as well half-time is coming up.

42 min: This is all a bit scrappy. Two teams short on confidence.

Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski and Napoli’s Juan Jesus (left) challenge for the ball as Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (second right) and Barcelona’s Jules Kounde (right) look on. Photograph: Gregorio Borgia/AP

40 min: Di Lorenzo floats in a cross from the right and earns a corner on the left. Kvaratskhelia prepares to take, but is forced to wait as the referee lectures Osimhen and Christensen for wrestling. Then the corner comes in, and it really wasn’t worth waiting for.

38 min: Politano loops a cross in from the right but there’s barely any Napoli presence in the Barca box and once again the visitors deal with the situation easily. The home fans are uncharacteristically quiet right now.

37 min: Politano’s not particularly confidently delivered free kick somehow squirts through to Di Lorenzo, just inside the Barca box. But Di Lorenzo can’t spin Araujo and the visitors clear. Ter Stegen has had nothing to do.


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