Thursday, October 29

Champions League: Inspired Lionel Messi lifts Barcelona into quarterfinals

(CNN)Lionel Messi scored a spellbinding goal as Barcelona beat Napoli 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate) in the Camp Nou on Saturday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Barca will play Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals after the German champion completed a 7-1 aggregate win over Chelsea.

With the series level at 1-1 from the first leg in Naples, Barcelona made the perfect start as Clement Lenglet headed home an Ivan Rakitic corner in the 10th minute.Messi increased the lead in the 23rd with a goal outrageous even by his standards, slaloming past several defenders after cutting in from the right before squeezing his shot home.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring Barcelona’s brilliant second goal against Napoli in the Champions League last 16 second round tie in the Camp Nou.Messi also played a big part in Barca’s third, being hacked down by Kalidou Koulibaly, the penalty awarded after a VAR check.Luis Suarez stepped up to take the penalty and put the home side 3-0 ahead.Napoli revived its hopes when Dries Mertens, who had gone close at the start of the match, was fouled by Rakitic in the penalty area

Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne scores from the spot to pull a goal back for his side against Barcelona in the Camp Nou.Lorenzo Insigne converted the spot kick, but despite some visitor pressure in the second half, with Arkadiusz Milik’s header 10 minutes from the end ruled out, there were no further goals as the home side defended its lead comfortably enough.

The result will be a relief for under pressure Barca coach Quique Setien.His side had gone into the match with rumblings of discontent, with Messi himself describing the team as “weak” after a defeat to Osasuna in the penultimate game of the season.With arch-rival Real Madrid pulling away after the restart to win La Liga, the Champions League represents the last chance of silverware for the Catalan giants this season amid further rumors about Messi’s future if the campaign ends in failure.

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