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SSC Napoli vs FC Barcelona Timeline: Lewandowski and Osimhen Shine in 1-1 Draw

NAPLES, Italy — A clash between football giants Barcelona and Napoli unfolded at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium, delivering a riveting 1-1 draw in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday. The much-anticipated matchup featured the prolific center-forwards Robert Lewandowski for Barcelona and Victor Osimhen for Napoli, both of whom lived up to the hype by finding the net.

In the 60th minute, Lewandowski showcased his clinical finishing, threading the ball through the legs of Napoli’s captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo and slotting it inside the near post. The goal marked Lewandowski’s 93rd in the top club competition, providing Barcelona with a crucial away goal.

Napoli, however, swiftly responded, with Osimhen equalizing in the 75th minute. The Nigerian striker unleashed a precise shot from near the penalty spot, leaving his marker grounded. Osimhen’s goal extended his impressive streak to six goals in Napoli’s last six home matches in the Champions League.

The second leg of this thrilling encounter is scheduled for March 12 in Spain, setting the stage for a decisive showdown between the two football powerhouses.

New Napoli coach Francesco Calzona, appointed a mere 48 hours before kickoff, had a challenging debut as Napoli struggled to construct coherent plays until Osimhen’s equalizer. Napoli’s captain Di Lorenzo acknowledged the team’s solid performance, considering the limited time they had to adjust to the new coach’s tactics.

“It was a good performance against a strong team with great players,” Di Lorenzo commented. “We were solid. It’s a good starting point.”

Highlighting the team’s resilience, Di Lorenzo added, “We had practically 1½ training sessions (with Calzona). This was a small step forward.”

Osimhen, returning from the Africa Cup of Nations where he helped Nigeria reach the final, received praise from his captain, who described him as “a great champion, a great professional” capable of making a significant impact for Napoli.

Barcelona, making a return to the knockout rounds after two consecutive group-stage eliminations, faces challenges both on and off the pitch. Currently trailing eight points behind Real Madrid in the Spanish league and with an early exit from the Copa del Rey, Barcelona is navigating a period of transition. The impending departure of coach Xavi at the end of the season adds another layer of uncertainty for the club.

Despite their recent struggles, Barcelona displayed dominance at the start of the match, producing a barrage of shots on target that Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret skillfully thwarted. The draw maintains Barcelona’s unbeaten record against Napoli, with five meetings since February 2020 resulting in no losses for the Catalan club.

In the night’s other match, Porto secured a 1-0 victory over Arsenal, setting the stage for an intriguing second leg in both fixtures.

The post-match Opta facts reveal interesting statistics, including Barcelona’s impressive track record in two-legged knockout stages and Napoli becoming the third Italian side to have three different managers in a single UEFA Champions League campaign.

As the football world eagerly awaits the second leg on March 12, the Napoli vs Barcelona timeline promises to deliver another chapter in the rich history of these two European football giants.