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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Barca win thriller to book place in Champions League quarterfinals


FC Barcelona won a thrilling Champions League tie 3-1 at home to Napoli on Tuesday night to assure their place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Two goals in first half put Barca on their way, but Napoli fought back and it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Robert Lewandowski assured their qualification.

The first 45 minutes saw some breathless football as the game swung from end to end, with goals and missed chances at both ends.

Barca coach Xavi Hernandez preferred 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi to Inigo Martinez alongside Ronald Araujo in central defense, with Fermin Lopez given the nod alongside Andreas Christensen and Ilkay Gundogan in midfield.

Fermin had the first chance of the match, lifting the ball over the bar under pressure after breaking the Napoli offside trap.

He made no mistake after 15 minutes after Raphinha pulled the ball back, Lewandowski dummied and Fermin side-footed home from around 12 meters.

It was 2-0 a couple of minutes later when Lamine Yamal launched a counter-attack deep in his own half, before picking out Raphinha. The winger cut inside and although his powerful shot bounced back off the post, Joao Cancelo followed up to drill the ball into the net.

Christensen was booked for clattering late into Stanislav Lobotka’s ankle, before Napoli drew a goal back just before the half hour with Amir Rrahmani netting a smart left-foot finish.

Napoli took a step forward in the second half, looking to pressure Barca high up the field and they were unlucky not to get a penalty when Cubarsi caught Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s heel in the area, but the referee was content to give Napoli a corner.

Raphinha had a shot saved after a rare Barca attack, while at the other end Cubarsi and Araujo kept calm to clear a series of dangerous crosses.

Xavi saw the need for greater control and Oriol Romeu and Sergi Roberto replaced Fermin and Christensen.

Gundogan produced a pass for Sergi Roberto to leave Lewandowski with a tap-in in the 83rd minute to assure Barca will be in the quarter-final draw.

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