The 1-1 scoreline of FC Barcelona vs SSC Napoli in the UEFA Europa League knockout round playoff first leg at the Camp Nou does not tell the game’s complete story. Barcelona knows that it was more than that, and they will be disappointed for not winning the game after creating nearly 20 chances in the match.
The Spanish club could have already wrapped up the match in the ending minutes of the second half, where they created great chances to score more than two goals. It was frustrating for the home fans to see Ferran Torres missing open opportunities. The disappointment was clearly visible after the final whistle when Torres was stunned, and his face told everything that happened in the match. He scored the penalty in the second half to make it 1-1, but he could have been the hero of the game at Camp Nou if did not have missed those chances.
Barcelona dominated the game with possession from the early minutes. But it was Napoli who scored first in the game in the 29th minute. Piotr Zielinski put the visitors in front in the first half, less than a minute after Ferran Torres had missed a huge chance to score for Barcelona, after being set up by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The goal came from a counter-attack where Zielinski smashed the ball to the roof of the net after the rebound from his own shot.
The Catalan club tried hard to grab the equalising goal in the first half. But their finishing quality blocked them from making it 1-1.
Barca drew level shortly before the hour mark in the second half when VAR ruled that Napoli’s Juan Jesus hit an Adama Traore cross with his hand in the penalty box. Ferran Torres took the shot and made it 1-1. It was the first penalty that the Spanish attacker took in his career and also scored Barca’s first goal in the Europa League.
After the equaliser, Barca started to attack more, and a goal was expected at any minute in the game. But it was disappointing for the home team. Napoli was trying to hold on at the end, and the home team substituted Luuk de Jong to get the winning goal. But luck was not in favour of Barca as Luuk’s overhead kick went wide off.
The decisive second leg will happen on February 24th at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples.
“Only thing missing was taking our chances, good pressing, good after losing the ball, we created 20-plus chances, six or seven very clear.” Xavi said. “I am sad to have missed so many.”
Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti was against the penalty that was awarded to Barcelona. “They deserved a draw, but that penalty was non-existent,” he said after the game.