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Europa League

Napoli FC 2-4 Barcelona

An explosive first-half performance by Barcelona was enough to knock the stuffing out of a rattled Napoli FC side today.

And the home team never really recovered, as they limped out of Europe again before reaching the last 16 stages.

With their midfield purring and an increasingly coherent attacking strategy, the Blaugrana roll on to the next round.

They will be a side to be feared in Europe’s second-tier tournament. As well as breezing through against a team with one of Europe’s best defensive records, the Catalans also take home a tiny slice of history – adding Napoli to six other Italian sides they have beaten away from home in continental competition.

Starting Lineup:

NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Alex Meret;

Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mario Rui;

Diego Demme, Fabian Ruiz;

Eljif Elmas, Piotr Zielinski, Lorenzo Insigne;

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Victor Osimhen.

 

BARCELONA (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen;

Sergino Dest, Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba;

Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong;

Adama Traore, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres.

Goals:

A quick break from their area into Napoli’s ends with Barcelona winger Traore feeding the ball through to Alba, unmarked on the right side of the area, and the flying full-back keeps cool to steer past Meret for the game’s opening goal. 0-1 Barcelona.

DE JONG DOUBLES THE LEAD! More loose play from Napoli – this time in midfield – sees the ball break to Torres in a central position, and the Barcelona forward opts for an unorthodox backheel to De Jong 30 yards out from goal. The Dutchman takes a couple of touches and then unfurls a beautiful curling shot into the top-right corner of the net – Meret had no chance! Barcelona 2-0 Napoli.

Insigne is ice cool and slots the ball past Ter Stegen and into the bottom corner of the net. Napoli 1-2 Barcelona.

Napoli fails to get the ball adequately clear, and Alba’s deflected cross from the byline is controlled and turned home by Pique on the left side of the area. What 45 minutes from the visitors; it’s 3-1 to Barcelona.

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AUBA NETS THE FOURTH! Indeed that’s game over; as Traore pulls the ball back from the right side of the area, De Jong steps carefully over the ball and Aubameyang clips an unstoppable finish past Meret into the top right corner. For Barcelona’s fourth! That’s 4-1.

NAPOLI PULL ONE BACK! Out of nothing, Politano drifts in off the right flank, cuts onto his left foot and slides a precise low finish past Ter Stegen and into the bottom corner from over 20 yards out. That’s undoubtedly only consolation for Napoli.

So, what’s next for Barcelona and Napoli FC?

Barcelona’s next up is a La Liga clash with Athletic Club on Sunday. At the same time, Napoli will have to concentrate solely on their Scudetto challenge, having exited both the Coppa Italia and Europa League in quick succession – they travel to Rome to meet fellow European losers Lazio at the weekend.

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