Barcelona and Bayern Munich reach Champions League quarters
By Rik Sharma
BARCELONA - A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona held off Napoli on Saturday to earn a 3-1 victory, 4-2 on aggregate, to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Catalans will face Bayern Munich next Friday in Lisbon after the German champions thrashed Chelsea 4-1 to progress 7-1 on aggregate.
Messi scored one, had another disallowed and won a penalty as Barcelona survived heavy pressure by Napoli at an empty Camp Nou.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski was equally electric, scoring twice and reaching 53 goals for the season across all competitions.
Dries Mertens could have scored for Napoli inside two minutes but struck the post as he misjudged his finish.
Barcelona took the lead in the 10th minute with Clement Lenglet heading home Ivan Rakitic's corner, which was poorly conceded by Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
Messi added a brilliant second with an individual effort, curling into the far corner after beating two men and stumbling, before regaining his footing.
The forward scored again with a lovely effort following Frenkie de Jong's superb pass, but the goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee (VAR) as the ball brushed Messi's arm when he controlled it.
Luis Suarez converted the third with a penalty after Messi was fouled by Koulibaly, with Napoli clawing one back through Lorenzo Insigne also with a spot kick.
Arkadiusz Milik scored for Napoli with 10 minutes to go but the goal was disallowed for offside and Barcelona held on to progress.
"This was what we wanted, we've been preparing for this game for two weeks," said Suarez.
"They made things difficult for us today but now we have to rest and think about the Bayern game.
"I'd say that's a 50-50. Bayern are great opponents, they are a candidate for the title but it's 11 vs 11 for 90 minutes."
Bayern Munich, who held a significant three goal lead on Chelsea from the first leg in February, came out of the blocks quickly at home.
Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero brought down Lewandowski and the Polish forward converted from the spot in the 10th minute.
Ivan Perisic doubled Bayern's lead after Mateo Kovacic gave the ball away, with the Bundesliga champions in complete control.
Beaten FA Cup finalists Chelsea thought they had pulled one back when Callum Hudson-Odoi struck but it was ruled out for offside by the VAR.
Tammy Abraham struck shortly before half-time after a mistake by Manuel Neuer, who pushed Emerson's cross into the striker's path.
An ageing Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in their own stadium to lift the Champions League in 2012 when now-coach Frank Lampard was playing for the club, but this team is far younger, a significantly less experienced side.
That was exposed Hansi Flick's team walked in for their third goal on the night, with midfielder Corentin Tolisso was left unmarked to finish.
"It's a good exercise for us to go up against Bayern and their Champions League experience, with a lot of our players having debut seasons," said Lampard.
"I can see where I want us to go and I know we'll be back."
Lewandowski wrapped up Bayern's emphatic victory by heading home, finishing the match with two goals and two assists.
"We're already excited," Bayern's David Alaba told Sky.
"Barca are a quality side but we want to compete with them. We'll go to Portugal with confidence and, after the last few months, we have nothing to hide from."