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UEFA: Osimhen Marks Return To Napoli With Goal

 

Victor Osimhen marked his return from the Africa Cup of Nations with a vital goal, helping Napoli snatch a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie at the Diego Maradona Stadium on Wednesday night.

Napoli’s form had dipped during Osimhen’s absence, managing only three wins in 11 matches.

The tide seemed to turn against them again when Barcelona dominated the opening 25 minutes.

Youngster Lamine Yamal made history as the youngest player ever in a Champions League knockout stage game, testing Alex Meret with a shot.

Meret then pulled off impressive saves to deny Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan.

Despite the initial pressure, Napoli gradually grew into the game.

However, they created no shots in the first half, making this the first time in their Champions League history.

Barcelona finally broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. Pedri’s clever through-ball found Lewandowski, who controlled, turned, and drilled a low shot into the net.

Just before being substituted, Osimhen equalised with his last touch of the game.

He displayed excellent strength to turn Inigo Martinez inside the penalty box, latching onto Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s pass and firing the ball in from 14 yards.

This goal boosted Napoli’s confidence and deflated Barcelona’s.

The hosts pressed forward, with Anguissa heading wide and Simeone sending a half-volley just over the bar. Gundogan almost snatched a late winner for Barcelona, but his shot hit the post.

Despite dominating possession, Barcelona will be left ruing their missed chances. Lewandowski and Araujo were particularly wasteful in front of goal, and the Blaugrana could have secured a better result.

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With the tie finely poised at 1-1, the second leg at the Camp Nou promises to be an electrifying affair. Both teams will believe they can progress, and the atmosphere in Barcelona is sure to be electric.

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