Napoli vs Barcelona 2-4: Partenopei Wave Goodbye to Europa League

Napoli’s Europa League run came to a halt as Barcelona took the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium by storm on Thursday. A 1-1 first-leg draw at Camp Nou gave the Partenopei everything to play for at home, but Xavi’s men cruised to a 4-2 triumph to reach the round of 16.

A lightning-fast counter-attack orchestrated by Adama Traore and finished by Jordi Alba brought Barcelona in front only eight minutes into the game. The travelling side did not have to wait long for their second of the evening as Frankie de Jong’s mid-range stunner hit the top corner only five minutes later.

It is fair to admit that Barcelona dominated Napoli through and through in the first leg, but everything they failed to convert last week, they slotted in tonight. Yet, Lorenzo Insigne’s 23rd-minute conversion from the spot handed Luciano Spalletti’s team a glimmer of hope that a comeback would be within reach.

However, Barca continued to keep possession and hold Napoli deep inside their own half, with the hosts relying on quick counters as part of their bid to restore parity. Spalletti’s cowardly approach backfired on his side once again as the Catalans regained a two-goal cushion on the stroke of half-time.

Gerard Pique was the quickest to react in the box to pick up a rebound and drill in a half-volley to send Barcelona to half-time with a comfortable lead. Spalletti’s desperate attempt to whittle down the deficit saw him withdraw deep-lying midfielder Diego Demme in favour of Matteo Politano at the start of the second half. 

But there was never a way back for Napoli into this tie. Traore once again proved a tall order for Mario Rui as he danced his way past the Portuguese left-back before setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a brilliant finish on the hour mark. 

Politano, who came off the bench, managed to get on the scoresheet in the 87th minute with a sublime left-footed finish into the bottom corner. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Napoli, who can now switch their attention towards domestic proceedings.

The Partenopei will take on Lazio in a massive Serie A fixture on Sunday, with their Scudetto hopes on the line following back-to-back 1-1 draws with Inter and Cagliari.