Barcelona beat Napoli to make 1st UCL quarterfinal since 2020


Burley: 2 matches vs. Napoli best Barcelona has looked offensively all season

Craig Burley breaks down everything that went right for Barcelona in their win over Napoli to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Barcelona reached the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time in four years after a 3-1 win over Napoli in their round-of-16 second leg gave them a 4-2 aggregate victory on Tuesday.

Early goals by Fermín López and João Cancelo set the hosts on their way and, after Amir Rrahmani cut the deficit before the break, Robert Lewandowski wrapped up the win with a late third.

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Barcelona had been eliminated in the group stage the last two years and hadn't reached the quarterfinals since 2019-20, when they lost to Bayern Munich. Club legend Lionel Messi left Barcelona at the end of the following season.

"Very happy, Barcelona are in the top eight in Europe. It was a well-deserved qualification, a game dominated in attack and defence but also an excellent game by Napoli," Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez told Mediaset.

"Happy with the qualification and we'll see how the draw goes. Proud to be back in the quarterfinals after years."

Robert Lewandowski sealed Barcelona's win over Napoli.
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The Champions League could be Barcelona's last realistic chance for a title this season. They were eliminated in the Copa del Rey and trail LaLiga leaders Real Madrid by seven points.

Xavi has already announced he will leave his role as manager at the end of the season.

The Barcelona boss still couldn't count on several players because of injuries, including Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Ferran Torres.

Xavi played with 17-year-old Pau Cubarsí as a central defender, and the teenager was named the man of the match as he helped contain Napoli's attack.

Barcelona, who also started 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, became the first club in Champions League knockout stage history to start multiple players under the age of 18.

In a highly entertaining affair at Montjuic Stadium, Barca pressed high early on, giving Napoli little time to settle, and the few attacks the visitors managed to create ended with striker Victor Osimhen offside.

The opening goal came when Cancelo played in Raphinha down the left wing and he cut into the area and pulled a ball back which Lewandowski let run to the unmarked Fermin who calmly slotted his shot into the bottom left corner.

Napoli had little time to recover before Barca doubled their lead. The visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser and Barcelona countered with pace.

The excellent Yamal's cross-field pass found Raphinha who cut into the area and wrong-footed Giovanni Di Lorenzo before curling a shot which came back off the far post and Cancelo was there to drive his first time effort into the net.

"There is disappointment, because we came here to try to win and we didn't succeed," Napoli manager Francesco Calzona said.

"We got off to a very bad start, if you concede so much to this team in the long run you lose it."

Napoli finally found a way through on the half hour when Matteo Politano went past Cancelo in the area before playing the ball back to Rrahmani whose run from the back was rewarded with a sidefooted shot past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.

Visiting keeper Alex Meret kept Napoli in the tie with a couple of great saves after the break from Lewandowski and Ilkay Gündogan, but could do nothing about the final goal.

Lewandowski fashioned a neat one-two with Gündogan who played the ball in to Sergi Roberto and his quick pass found the Polish striker for a simple tap-in to kill off Napoli's hopes.

Minutes earlier Napoli had their best chance to level but Jesper Lindstrom headed just wide and the Italian champions go out after reaching the quarterfinals last season for the first time.

The draw for the quarterfinals will take place on Friday, with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Arsenal the other teams to have already claimed their place.

Napoli's defeat ensured Juventus advanced through a European ranking system to qualify for the revamped FIFA Club World Cup in 2025.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.