Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (Aug: 4-2): Blaugrana beat brave Napoli display | UEFA Champions League

Barcelona reached the last eight of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in four years thanks to a stunning win over a spirited Napoli side.

Key moments

15': Fermin slots after Rabinha cut
17'
: João Cancelo guides the low effort at home
30'
: Rrahmani reduces deficiency with a smooth finish
34'
: Der Stegen notes above De Lorenzo title
83': Lewandowski taps in from close range

Match in brief: Barcelona boss' starting positions


Fermin López shoots in Barcelona's first matchGood pictures

Blaugrana boss Xavi Hernandez, who started 16-year-old Lamin Yamal in the 1-1 draw in Naples – making him the youngest player to start a knockout stage match – put his faith in the youngsters by drafting him at 17. Old defender Pau Gubarzi for his Champions League debut.

The 20-year-old broke the deadlock on 15 minutes, Fermin Lopez calmly picking his place after Rafinha's clever delivery.

The Brazil international was instrumental in Barcelona doubling their lead two minutes later, collecting a pass following Yamal's run from deep, cutting inside and hitting the post with a right-footed shot. Joao Cancelo was quick enough to recover and flick his low effort into the net just beyond the reach of Alex Meredith.

Joao Cancelo won Barca's second

Joao Cancelo won Barca's secondGood pictures

Despite Barcelona's quick-fire two goals, Napoli quickly gained confidence. Matteo Politano's byline and accurate run towards the center allowed Amir Rahmani to slot a crisp finish into the far corner.

Politano almost pulled his side level after half an hour, but his looping header from an inviting Mario Rui cross was acrobatically tipped away by the lively Marc-Andre der Stegen.

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After a tense first half, both teams continued the momentum after the restart as they went in search of a fourth goal of the game. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa were unable to capitalize on finishing in promising positions, while Meret twice denied the lively Raphinha.

A smart reaction stop from Merat saw İlkay Gündoğan drive him away at his near post after a clever turn and strike from Merat.

With less than 15 minutes to go, Gundogan's unselfish lay-off gave Yamal the youngest scoring chance in UEFA Champions League history, but his curling effort went wide of the upright.

Napoli substitutes Matias Oliveira and Jesper Lindström restored parity, but the Dane's header flew the wrong side of the post for the Serie A outfit.

Barcelona got their two-goal lead back a few minutes later. Gundogan's through ball ran onto substitute Sergi Roberto, who teed up Robert Lewandowski for a simple finish.

With extra-time approaching, Oliveira still had time to hit the crossbar for the visitors as Barcelona held firm.

Happened: Barcelona 3-1 Napoli

PlayStation® Man of the Game: Pav Gubarsi (Barcelona)

„A great game for the young man. Strong defensively, and very brave in the build-up – qualities not easily found in such a big game.”
UEFA Technical Observers Committee

Graham Hunter, Barcelona Reporter

There were moments here, flashes of what made the Plagrana legend so well-respected and fascinating around the world. Xavi brought excitement, confidence, chance creation from his young squad – and created a chance to qualify. The crowd loved it and they roared into the Catalan night sky. And then there was that super tense finale. This is top quality Champions League entertainment.

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Vieri Capretta, Naples correspondent

Napoli's adventure in this season's Champions League is coming to an end, but not without a brave performance to the end. Partenobi had spells of controlling possession and creating chances, but Barcelona were more clinical and showed their quality overall. The reigning Italian champions tried their best, with Lindström coming close to equalizing just before Barcelona's third. Football in a nutshell. Napoli are out, but they can lend.

reaction

Amir Rahmani expertly puts his strike out of Ter Stegen's reach

Amir Rahmani expertly puts his strike out of Ter Stegen's reachGood pictures

Fermin Lopez, Barcelona Midfielder: „This club has been waiting for four years to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League – it means real happiness for the team, the coach and the fans. It's important that we start this competition well. We had a few chances and, after a few hits on goal, mine went in. I'm very happy with that. „

Xavi HernandezBarcelona coach: „We played a great match. My team left everything they had out there. We dominated most of the game and I'm very proud of them for that. It's a moment we should really enjoy!”

Francesco CalzonaCoach of Naples: „We gave them too much space, we often lost possession. The game had different phases, sometimes we did well and almost equalized. Of course, if you lose, it means something didn't work. A strong opponent, but we made many mistakes.”

Napoli goalscorer Amir Rahmani speaks Sport Mediaset: „We can go out with our heads held high. We took risks and played our football, but we didn't take our chances. We created a lot, but we didn't score when we needed to.”

Robert Lewandowski scored another knockout stage goal

Robert Lewandowski scored another knockout stage goalGood pictures

Key statistics

  • Gubarzi (17 years 50 days) became the youngest player to debut as a starter in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage.
  • With Gubarzi and Yamal (16 years, 243 days) in the starting eleven, Barcelona started this tournament as the first team to field two players aged 17 or under in a knockout competition.
  • Barça's two goals after 17 minutes gave them a 2-0 lead against Bayern in their first Champions League match since April 2009.
  • Lewandowski's strike took his goalscoring record at this stage of the tournament to 19 goals in 16 outings in 22 rounds.
  • The Blaugrana have not lost the second leg in any of their last 17 UEFA Champions League round of 16 ties.

Fantasy star performers

to follow

Rows

Barcelona: ter roasting; Counte, Ronald Araujo, Gubarsi, John Cancelo; Fermin (Sergi Roberto 60), Christensen (Oriol Romeu 60), Gundogan; Yamal, Lewandowski, Rabinha (John Felix 81)

Napoli: Meredith; Lawrence, Rahmani, John Jesus, Mario Rui (Matthew Oliveira 64); Forest Anguisa, Lobotka, Trare (Raspadori 78); Politano (Lindstrom 64), Osimhen, Kvartskelia (Nonge 90)

What's next?

Barcelona enter the quarter-final and semi-final draw on March 15. The quarter-finals will be held on April 9/10 and 16/17.

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