BARCELONA: Barcelona reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years after a thrilling 3-1 home win over Napoli in their last-16 second leg gave them a deserved 4-2 aggregate victory.

Early goals by Fermin Lopez and Joao Cancelo set the hosts on their way and, after Amir Rrahmani cut the deficit before the break, Robert Lewandowski wrapped up the win with a late third.

Napoli had never beaten Barca in their previous five meetings and it turned out to be a repeat of the 2020 Champions League meeting with a 3-1 home win for the Spanish side after a 1-1 draw in Naples.

That was the last time the Catalans had won a knockout stage game in the competition and their most recent qualification for the last eight.

“Very happy, Barcelona are in the top eight in Europe. It was a well-deserved qualification, a game dominated in attack and defence but also an excellent game by Napoli,” Barca coach Xavi Hernandez told Mediaset.

“Happy with the qualification and we’ll see how the draw goes. Proud to be back in the quarter-finals after years.”

In a highly entertaining affair at Montjuic Stadium, Barca pressed high early on, giving Napoli little time to settle, and the few attacks the visitors managed to create ended with striker Victor Osimhen offside.

The opening goal came in the 15th minute when Cancelo played in Raphinha down the left wing and he cut into the area and pulled a ball back which Lewandowski let run to the unmarked Fermin who calmly slotted his shot into the bottom left corner.

Napoli had little time to recover before Barca doubled their lead. The visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser and Barcelona countered with pace.

The excellent Lamine Yamal’s cross-field pass found Raphinha who cut into the area and wrong-footed Giovanni Di Lorenzo before curling a shot which came back off the far post and Cancelo was there to drive his first time effort into the net.

“There is disappointment, because we came here to try to win and we didn’t succeed,” Napoli manager Francesco Calzona said.

“We got off to a very bad start, if you concede so much to this team in the long run you lose it.”

Napoli finally found a way through on the half hour when Matteo Politano went past Cancelo in the area before playing the ball back to Rrahmani whose run from the back was rewarded with a sidefooted shot past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Visiting keeper Alex Meret kept Napoli in the tie with a couple of great saves after the break from Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan, but could do nothing about the final goal.

Lewandowski fashioned a neat one-two with Gundogan who played the ball in to Roberto and his quick pass found the Polish striker for a simple tap-in to kill off Napoli’s hopes.

Minutes earlier Napoli had their best chance to level but Jesper Lindstrom headed just wide and the Italian champions go out after reaching the quarter-finals last season for the first time.

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