Barcelona set up a Champions Leaguequarter-final against Bayern Munich asLionel Messi starred in a 3-1 victory overNapoli on Saturday.
Lionel Messi was in fine form as Barcelona progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals, with a 3-1 second-leg defeat of Napoli sealing a 4-2 aggregate victory.
An action-packed first half at Camp Nou saw Barca take a three-goal lead, before Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back from the spot in stoppage time.
Clement Lenglet’s ninth-minute header broke the deadlock, with Messi netting an exquisite second prior to winning a penalty which Luis Suarez converted.
Insigne’s spot-kick gave Napoli hope, but Barca had enough to book their place in the last eight, where Bayern Munich await.
Dries Mertens clipped the woodwork inside two minutes but Barca swiftly took control – Lenglet heading home unmarked from Ivan Rakitic’s inswinging corner, with the goal standing after a VAR check for a possible foul on Diego Demme.
Further punishment followed when Messi bundled his way through a crowd of defenders and, despite an untimely slip, he curled a wonderful finish beyond David Ospina.
It appeared Barca had gone 3-0 up by the half-hour mark, only for Messi to have a second goal ruled out for handball, yet Barca had their third when Suarez scored from the spot after Kalidou Koulibaly clumsily kicked Messi.
Napoli were handed a lifeline two minutes later, however, with the referee harshly deeming Rakitic to have fouled Mertens – Insigne converting the resulting penalty.
Insigne could have doubled his tally early in the second half, but failed to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a close-range header.
Arkadiusz Milik looked to have made an instant impact after his introduction from the bench late on, only for his header to be disallowed for offside as Barca secured their place in Portugal with minimum fuss.
What does it mean? Barca still have hope
It has been a dismal season on the domestic front for Barca, but their hopes of a sixth Champions League title remain intact.
However, an imperious Bayern side will present an altogether different challenge than Gennaro Gattuso’s side after their 7-1 aggregate victory over Chelsea, and the Blaugrana will have to display a quality which has often been lacking this term in order to progress further.
Messi turns on the magic to lift Setien
It has not been easy for Quique Setien since he was appointed in January, and the Barca boss could well have been under severe pressure had his side gone out on Saturday.
However, Messi turned on the style to quieten the doubters – at least for now.
Koulibaly found wanting
Raphael Varane made two calamitous mistakes for Real Madrid against Manchester City on Friday, and another of Europe’s finest defenders struggled this time out.
Koulibaly seemed to go down easily in the build up to Barca’s opener when Demme was pushed into him, while Messi got the better of him to win the penalty from which Suarez made it 3-0.
Key Opta Facts
– Barcelona are unbeaten in 36 consecutive home Champions League matches (W32 D4) – in Champions League/European Cup history, only Bayern Munich’s 43-game run between 1969 and 1991 is longer.
– Napoli have been eliminated on all three occasions that they have reached the Champions League last 16, despite scoring at least once in all six games in those ties.
– This was Barcelon’’s first victory against Napoli in the Champions League; Napoli are the 57th different side they have beaten in the competition, with only Real Madrid (58) defeating more teams.
– The combined passing accuracy between both sides in this game was 91 per cent; since full passing data is first available for the Champions League (2003-04), this is the highest passing accuracy for any game in the competition.
– Barcelona have qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals for the 13th consecutive campaign – no other side has ever done so in more than eight seasons running.
– Lenglet became the 83rd different player to score for Barcelona in the Champions League (excluding own goals) – they have had more unique goalscorers than any other side in the competition’s history.
– Messi has now scored against 35 different opponents in the Champions League, two more than any other player (Cristiano Ronaldo, 33).
– Suarez’s last 16 goals in the Champions League have been scored at home; the Barcelona striker’s last away goal in the competition was in 2015 versus Roma.
Bayern are Barca’s opponents in the last eight, with the game to take place in Lisbon on Friday. Napoli, meanwhile, will turn their attention to next season.