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UCL: Osimhen earns Napoli draw at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona vs Barca

Victor Osimhen rescued a first-leg draw for Napoli after Robert Lewandowski had put Barcelona ahead.

Osimhen, Napoli’s top scorer required one chance to change the game

Napoli held Barcelona to a draw in the opening act of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie after Victor Osimhen struck with 15 minutes remaining in reply to Robert Lewandowski‘s goal on the hour mark.

 

Match in brief: Tale of top strikers

On a night when visiting midfielder Lamine Yamal became the youngest ever player to feature in a Champions League knockout stage match, the youngster threatened to set another record early on.

Alex Meret prevented Yamal from becoming the first 16-year-old to score in the competition by beating away his strike, setting the tone for an early period in which the home goalkeeper was kept busy, Lewandowski and Ilkay Gündoğan both testing his reflexes.

New Napoli coach Francesco Calzona would have seen plenty to work on in the first 45 minutes, although there were flickers of promise during the latter stages despite their opponents registering all seven of the attempts on goal before the break.

The Italian champions made the brighter start after the break, only for a wily figure 19 years Yamal’s senior to make the breakthrough when Lewandowski struck his 93rd Champions League goal.

Pedri, who celebrated ecstatically with his recipient, found the Polish striker with a perceptive pass, Lewandowski taking a deft touch to fashion space before beating Meret at his near post.

Osimhen had been quiet on his first club appearance this year but Napoli’s top scorer required one chance to change the game, collecting André-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s pass inside the penalty area and expertly turning his marker to slot in.

From there, Calzona’s players made their early meekness seem a distant memory by pushing for a winner. Substitute Giovanni Simeone went closest, but Ilkay Gündoğan curled narrowly wide late on at the other end to show why both sides will have cause for optimism ahead of the second leg.

Lewandowski struck his 93rd Champions League goal

Francesco Calzona, Napoli coach: “We have a lot to work on still, but I congratulated the players on this performance. We fought, we had a good second half and a great final 15 minutes. I liked the spirit a lot. In the end, we believed we could win this game. We struggled in the opening half hour, then the team reacted. I am very happy with the substitutes.”

Xavi Hernández, Barcelona coach: “We deserved more. Our strategy worked well and we were leading 1-0. What we lacked was the ability to calm down and control a tough game with that scoreline. We should have been keeping the ball and moving the play into their half but, overall, my team put in a good performance.”

Key moments

9′ Meret parries Yamal strike
22′: Napoli goalkeeper stops Lewandowski shot with legs

22′: Gündoğan has effort turned behind
60′: Barcelona go ahead through Lewandowski finish

66′: Swerving Pedri strike troubles Meret
75: Composed Osimhen draws Napoli level

Key stats

Napoli have lost one of their last 17 home Champions League matches, drawing six.

The Serie A side have avoided defeat in the first leg in their last four round of 16 ties (W2 D2).

They have scored in 29 of their last 30 home matches (group stage to final).

Lewandowski has scored 47 times in his last 43 appearances in the competition, including 18 in 21 games at this stage.

Osimhen has five goals in his last four knockout stage appearances, finding the net in each of those games.

At 16 years 223 days, Yamal is 92 days younger than the previous youngest player to feature in the knockout stage, Sporting CP’s Rodrigo Duarte in 2022.

© UEFA

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