The Argentine playmaker Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a 3-1 victory at home against Napoli on Saturday for a 4-2 aggregate victory taking the club into the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the 13th consecutive season where they are going to face Bayern Munich.
The Catalans did not have a good start but the lead in the 10th minute of the match ith the help of a powerful header by Clement Lenglet before Messi scored a brilliant second in the 23rd minute and giving the Spanish club a two-goal cushion.
Messi had the ball in the net again soon after following a superb team move but the goal was harshly ruled out for handball by the Argentine following a VAR review, although Messi later won a penalty which Luis Suarez converted for Barca's third. Napoli got one back when Lorenzo Insigne converted a spot-kick at the end of the first half and were the better side after the interval but Barca survived to set up a mouth-watering clash with Bayern in the Final Eight tournament in Lisbon next Friday.
Messi Helps Barcelona Register Win
"We got the result we wanted. We've spent two weeks preparing for the game, knowing how difficult it would be and so it proved as they made it tough for us in certain moments," said Suarez. "We were taken by surprise at the start but we scored first. If they had scored it would have caused uncertainty but we managed the game well."
Messi had sounded the alarm after Barcelona's rusty performance in the 1-1 draw in the last-16 first leg back in February, saying they stood no chance of winning Europe's top prize, which has eluded them since 2015, unless they improved. He would have been worried by Barca's stuttering start which saw Napoli swarm all over the home side's area and Dries Mertens clip the crossbar in the second minute with a scuffed shot.
But Napoli's slack defending allowed Lenglet to score with a free header which settled Barca nerves while Messi effectively killed the tie off with his goal and by winning the penalty by chasing down Kalidou Koulibaly in the area and earning a foul. However, the fact Napoli ended the game so well, with Hirving Lozano hitting the post and Arkadiusz Milik's header ruled out for offside, added to the sense that Barca will struggle to beat Bayern, who thrashed Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate.
(With agency inputs)