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Napoli achieved a flattering 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona

Napoli achieved a flattering 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona
Robert Lewandowski (center) gave FC Barcelona the lead.
Image: AFP

FC Barcelona had to settle for a draw in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 at Napoli, while Arsenal even left Porto as losers. Robert Lewandowski (60th) brought the Catalans ahead to make it 1-1, but Victor Osimhen (75th) managed to equalize for the southern Italians, who had the third coach of the current season, Francesco Calzona, on the line. The “Gunners” lost 1-0 at FC Porto after a goal from Galeno in the 94th minute.

Barcelona took a brisk approach to the duel between the struggling champions from Italy and Spain at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. The guests dominated, young star Lamine Yamal – at 16 years and 223 days now also the youngest player ever to play in the knockout phase – tested Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret for the first time after just under ten minutes. Lewandowski also failed because the keeper’s foot was blocked. Napoli were somewhat lucky to survive the first 20 minutes without conceding a goal, but were able to make the game more balanced as the first half continued. The southern Italians didn’t have a shot on goal until the break.

Even after the break, Napoli were unable to make any gains for the time being, but Barcelona were rewarded after an hour. Lewandowski once found space in the penalty area and scored only his second goal in the current Champions League. For the Italians, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, a star of the last championship season, left the field. The home team managed to equalize out of nowhere: Osimhen let his opponent Inigo Martinez rebound and finished. After that it was over for the Nigerian and he also had to leave the pitch.

Barcelona have not been able to win an away game in the round of 16 since 2016. With the last chance deep into stoppage time, Ilkay Gündogan shot just wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Porto’s Pepe with more Champions League appearances than the entire Arsenal team

Arsenal often kept the ball in their own ranks, but with possession of around 70 percent the Gunners remained harmless. Porto even had a very good chance to take the lead after 20 minutes through Galeno, the Brazilian only hit metal. With the Portuguese, the 40-year-old Pepe made his 119th appearance in the Champions League in central defense. The entire Arsenal starting eleven played 104 competitive games.

Throughout the game, Porto knew how to narrow the circles of the opposing offensive players and put pinpricks in between. However, Arsenal hardly let anything happen either. Until the 94th minute: Galeno was able to take measurements unchallenged and sank the ball wonderfully into the far corner from more than 20 meters with his right hand. Arsenal will be more than challenged in the second leg in three weeks.

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