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Osimhen scores on return as Napoli hold Barca

Osimhen scores on return as Napoli hold Barca

Napoli fought back to hold the visitors FC Barcelona to a dour 1-1 draw in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday (Feb 21) as Victor Osimhen cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener.

The opponents, champions last year in the Spanish and Italian leagues and both struggling this season, played out a poor match in which both sides were toothless and lacking attacking flair.

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

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

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

Lewandowski put Barcelona ahead in the 60th minute after receiving a pass from Pedri just inside the box and the Poland striker made space to unleash a strike into the bottom corner of the net.

That woke up Napoli and Osimhen, in his first game since playing for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations, equalised 15 minutes later with a fine swivelling strike from inside the box to leave the tie evenly poised before the return leg in Spain on Mar 12.