Osimhen earns Napoli CL last-16 first-leg draw with Barcelona

Victor Osimhen rescued Napoli a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in his first appearance for the club since December.

Osimhen, who had served a ban in Napoli’s previous game after returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty for runners-up Nigeria, stole clear in the penalty area with 15 minutes remaining to fire home an equaliser.

Barcelona had taken a deserved lead on the hour-mark through Robert Lewandowski’s 93rd Champions League goal.

It was Napoli’s first game since they sacked head coach Walter Mazzarri after three months in charge and replaced him with Francesco Calzona, while Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years.

Last year’s Spanish and Italian champions, both struggling this season, played out a poor match in which both sides were toothless and lacking attacking flair.

Robert Lewandowski celebrates after putting Barcelona ahead
Image:
Robert Lewandowski celebrates after putting Barcelona ahead

Third in the LaLiga standings and 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.

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.

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

Victor Osimhen scores Napoli's equaliser
Image:
Victor Osimhen scores Napoli’s equaliser

That woke Napoli up and Osimhen equalised 15 minutes later with a fine strike from inside the box to leave the tie evenly poised.

“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.”

What’s next?

The return leg is on Tuesday March 12 at the Estadio Olimpico de Montjuic, kicking off at 8pm.

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