Napoli crash out of Champions League amid regrets as Barcelona seal quarter-final spot

Barcelona are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in a game that will be, once again, remembered for the performances of their young stars, with Napoli crashing out with regrets, as they wasted a golden opportunity to equalise and had penalty appeals rejected in the 3-1 defeat to the Catalans.

The home fans welcomed the side to the ground with a sensational show of support and noise, and the players repaid them from minute one.

Xavi’s side pressed high and scored two quick-fire goals from Fermín and Cancelo to send the crowd into delirium and the club into the driving seat.

The first leg ended 1-1 on coach Francesco Calzona’s debut and he was unbeaten since then, earning two wins and three draws, but coming off Friday’s disappointing 1-1 result with Torino. Piotr Zielinski was cup-tied, with Amir Rrahmani returning from injury, but the Blaugrana missed Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Ferran Torres, Marcos Alonso, Gavi and Alejandro Balde.

As Camp Nou is undergoing renovations, this game was played at the Estadi Olimpico Lluis Companys, or the Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic.

Pau Cubarsi floated a ball over the top for Fermin Lopez to spring the offside trap, but the midfielder could not keep his lob down.

It was only a warning, as Fermin Lopez was able to sweep in with the inside of the right boot undisturbed from 12 yards after Robert Lewandowski’s dummy let the Raphinha pull-back through from the by-line.

Napoli tried to react with Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, but were caught on the counter-attack sparked by Lamine Yamal, as first Raphina cut inside Giovanni Di Lorenzo for a curler thumping the far post, then Joao Cancelo turned in the rebound for 2-0.

Napoli got themselves back into it with a very similar goal to the Blaugrana’s first, as Matteo Politano pulled back from the right by-line beyond Victor Osimhen for Amir Rrahmani to side-foot home from 12 yards.

It was very nearly 2-2 just five minutes later, as Marc-Andre ter Stegen flew to fingertip the Di Lorenzo looping header out from under the bar on a Mario Rui cross.

Straight after the restart, Kvaratskhelia turned and curled just wide from outside the D, while Politano had a shot charged down by Cubarsi in the box. Osimhen had strong penalty appeals rejected when Cubarsi seemed to tread on the Napoli striker’s foot.

Alex Meret parried a Raphina effort from 12 yards and Ter Stegen had to be alert on a deflected Politano assist before Osimhen could pounce, while a crucial header prevented the Politano cross finding the Nigerian.

Barcelona had the ball in the net after a corner when Meret got behind the Lewandowski header, but Lamine Yamal was in an offside position as he bundled the rebound over the line.

Meret got down to push a ferocious Ilkay Gundogan strike out of the near bottom corner, while Lamine Yamal bent a finish just wide of the far post.

Napoli really should’ve equalised at the 80th minute when a cross from the left found Jesper Lindstrom unmarked, but incredibly the free header went wide of the far stick.

It proved incredibly costly, because Barcelona scored moments later. Sergi Roberto completed a smart give and go with Gundogan to burst into the box and rolled it across for Lewandowski to poke home from six yards.

The Partenopei were unlucky too, as in the final minute Mathias Olivera’s cross-shot thumped the crossbar, then Kvaratskhelia drilled inches wide.

Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (4-2 agg)

Fermin Lopez 15 (B), Joao Cancelo 17 (B), Rrahmani 30 (N), Lewandowski 83 (B)

Photo Credit: FCBarcelona/ ChampionsLeague/ X