- Robert Lewandowski put Barcelona ahead with a shot on the hour mark
- But Victor Osimhen leveled the situation 15 minutes later with a vital equalizer.
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Robert Lewandowski is back, but so is Victor Osimhen and that means crisis clubs Barcelona and Napoli will have to settle their Champions League last-16 tie in three weeks’ time in the second leg.
Lewandowski made it four consecutive games by scoring with his 12th goal of 2024 to put Barcelona ahead in the 61st minute and it was no more than they deserved after dominating the first hour.
But that woke up Napoli and, starting his first game of the year for the Italian champions, Osimhen majestically spun Iñigo Martínez 15 minutes from time and buried his shot past Marc Andre ter Stegen to level the night.
It was difficult to know who was happier. Barça drew away, but played so poorly for most of the match that Napoli perhaps took more than they deserved.
In the weeks leading up to the game, these two teams have been competing to see whose season could implode more spectacularly, but in the first half hour Barcelona played with a confidence that belied their situation on and off the field.
Victor Osimhen rescued a draw for Napoli as his team drew 1-1 with Barcelona on Wednesday
The Nigerian star remained calm and tied Napoli in the 75th minute against the LaLiga team
Robert Lewandowski scored Barcelona’s first goal in the 60th minute in the first leg of the round of 16
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Lewandowski should have scored in the 21st minute, when Joao Cancelo returned the ball to him from the byline, but Meret saved it. Ilkay Gundogan shot hard and Meret stopped again.
The German had a huge influence in midfield as Barcelona dominated. Napoli played as the visiting team with Osimhen well controlled by Martínez, while a much more astute Jules Kounde and a dominant Ronald Araujo kept Khvicha Kvaratskhelia calm. The only negative thing during the first 45 minutes was the lack of a goal.
Napoli’s new coach, Francesco Calzona, is known not to care much about having more possession, but his team not only let Barcelona have the ball, but at half-time they conceded seven shots and failed to convert a single one.
Matteo Politano headed wide after the restart and Napoli finally had a chance. But Barcelona soon returned to the top and again Meret had to make a good save from Gundogan.
They finally moved on shortly after the hour. It was Lewandowski’s 18th goal in all competitions this season.
Pedri found him with a clever pass inside the area and he turned and shot between Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s legs and past Meret in the Napoli goal. Napoli had let Pedri receive the ball with time and space on the edge of the area and paid the price.
Barcelona thought they had achieved victory away from home thanks to Lewandowski’s successful goal
But Osimhen, who is attracting interest from a number of elite clubs across Europe, ensured that Napoli headed to the Camp Nou with the Champions League last 16 tie on the line.
Xavi’s men will have to finish the job at home when Napoli visit the Camp Nou in three weeks
The answer came in the 75th minute and from a man who was about to be taken off. Calzona was about to replace Osimhen but turned to Martínez and the Barça defender continued to claim a foul in vain while the Nigerian striker celebrated having surpassed Ter Stegen. It was his last shot before being replaced by Giovanni Simeone.
Suddenly the wind changed direction and began to blow strongly towards Ter Stegen’s goal. Simeone had a shot blocked for a corner and Andre-Frank Anguissa hit a header wide. Barça did know how to take advantage of the last chance with a shot from Gundogan that went wide. Xavi remains unbeaten since he announced that he would leave the team at the end of the season. Now his team must assert home field advantage on March 12 to reach the round of 16.