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Barcelona Triumphs: Reaches Champions League Quarter-Finals After Thrilling Win Over Napoli

Barcelona, March 12, 2024, The Europe Today: In a spectacular display of skill and determination, Barcelona secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years with a resounding 3-1 home victory over Napoli in the last-16 second leg, achieving a well-deserved 4-2 aggregate triumph on Tuesday.

The Montjuic Stadium witnessed early goals by Fermin Lopez and Joao Cancelo, propelling Barcelona ahead. Despite Amir Rrahmani’s effort to cut the deficit for Napoli before halftime, Robert Lewandowski sealed the win with a late third goal.

This victory marks a significant milestone for Barcelona, as they hadn’t won a knockout stage game in the Champions League since the 2020 meeting against Napoli, where they secured a 3-1 home win after a 1-1 draw in Naples.

Speaking to Mediaset, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez expressed his joy, stating, “Very happy, Barcelona is in the top eight in Europe. It was a well-deserved qualification, a game dominated in attack and defense but also an excellent game by Napoli. Happy with the qualification, and we’ll see how the draw goes. Proud to be back in the quarter-finals after years.”

The thrilling encounter at Montjuic Stadium saw Barcelona apply high pressure early on, leaving Napoli with little time to settle. Napoli’s attempts at attack were repeatedly thwarted, with striker Victor Osimhen frequently caught offside.

The opening goal unfolded in the 15th minute, as Cancelo set up Raphinha down the left wing, who delivered a precise ball into the box. Lewandowski cleverly let it run to the unmarked Fermin, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Barcelona doubled their lead shortly after, capitalizing on Napoli’s push for an equalizer. Lamine Yamal’s cross-field pass found Raphinha, who skillfully cut into the area, wrong-footed Giovanni Di Lorenzo, and delivered a shot that rebounded off the post. Cancelo pounced on the opportunity, driving his first-time effort into the net.

Napoli managed to find a breakthrough in the 30th minute, as Matteo Politano eluded Cancelo in the area, playing the ball back to Rrahmani, whose well-timed run culminated in a sidefooted shot past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Despite Napoli’s efforts, Barcelona continued to dominate, and Lewandowski secured the victory with a simple tap-in after a neat one-two with Ilkay Gundogan.

Napoli manager Francesco Calzona expressed disappointment, stating, “There is disappointment because we came here to try to win, and we didn’t succeed. We got off to a very bad start. If you concede so much to this team, in the long run, you lose it.”

Visiting goalkeeper Alex Meret made crucial saves in the second half, but Barcelona’s resilience proved too much for Napoli. The Italian champions, having reached the quarter-finals last season for the first time, exit the competition after a captivating and hard-fought encounter.