Napoli fight back to draw with Barcelona in Champions League


Burley: Napoli-Barcelona was really hard to watch

Craig Burley speaks out on the poor quality of Napoli's match vs. Barcelona.

Napoli fought back to hold visitors Barcelona to a dour 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday thanks to a goal from Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen.

Last year's Spanish and Italian champions, who are both struggling this season, played out a poor first half before Poland striker Robert Lewandowski put Barca ahead in the 60th minute.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Osimhen equalised 15 minutes later with a fine swivelling strike from just inside the box to leave the tie evenly poised ahead of the return leg in Spain on March 12.

Third in the LaLiga standings eight points behind leaders Real Madrid, Barcelona dominated the first half against a disorganised Napoli, who barely managed to get out of their own half.

"It is not a good result for the return leg," Barca manager Xavi Hernandez told Movistar Plus.

"We were better in all aspects of the game, we had to control and we struggled, we weren't effective up front, it was a summary of our season."

Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years while Napoli were led by new coach Francesco Calzona with their Serie A title defence in tatters as they languish ninth in the domestic standings.

Napoli were frustrated by Barca's high pressing, missing simple passes and gifting the ball to the visitors who also looked short of ideas in possession.

Teenager Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to appear in the knockout phase of the Champions League at 16 years and 223 days, was also bidding to become the tournament's youngest scorer, but he sent an early effort wide and had a strike from distance saved by goalkeeper Alex Meret.

Ilkay Gundogan twice shot wide for Barca before Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. He received a pass from Pedri just inside the box and made space to unleash a bullet strike into the bottom corner of the net.

"We have a lot of work to do, but I congratulated the team for rediscovering the desire to fight," Calzona told Amazon Prime Video Italia. "We struggled at the start but I really liked the spirit of the side. The players gave their heart and soul to avoid defeat against a very strong opponent."