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Barca win thriller to book place in Champions League quarterfinals

01:40 AM Mar 14, 2024 IST | IANS
barca win thriller to book place in champions league quarterfinals
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Madrid, Mar 13: FC Barcelona won a thrilling Champions League tie 3-1 at home to Napoli to assure their place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

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Two goals in first half put Barca on their way, but Napoli fought back and it wasn't until the 83rd minute that Robert Lewandowski assured their qualification. The first 45 minutes saw some breathless football as the game swung from end to end, with goals and missed chances at both ends, reports Xinhua. Barca coach Xavi Hernandez preferred 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi to Inigo Martinez alongside Ronald Araujo in central defense, with Fermin Lopez given the nod alongside Andreas Christensen and Ilkay Gundogan in midfield.

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Fermin had the first chance of the match, lifting the ball over the bar under pressure after breaking the Napoli offside trap. He made no mistake after 15 minutes after Raphinha pulled the ball back, Lewandowski dummied and Fermin side-footed home from around 12 meters. It was 2-0 a couple of minutes later when Lamine Yamal launched a counter-attack deep in his own half, before picking out Raphinha. The winger cut inside and although his powerful shot bounced back off the post, Joao Cancelo followed up to drill the ball into the net.

Christensen was booked for clattering late into Stanislav Lobotka's ankle, before Napoli drew a goal back just before the half hour with Amir Rrahmani netting a smart left-foot finish. Napoli took a step forward in the second half, looking to pressure Barca high up the field and they were unlucky not to get a penalty when Cubarsi caught Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's heel in the area, but the referee was content to give Napoli a corner.

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