By Agency Reporter
A fired-up Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a 3-1 win at home to Napoli on Saturday for a 4-2 aggregate victory which took the club into the Champions League quarter-finals.
It is Barcelona’s 13th consecutive time of reaching the last eight and they will face Bayern Munich in a mouth-watering clash in the Final Eight tournament in Lisbon next Friday.
Messi also scored a personal record in the night, Napoli becoming the 35th team in the UCL that Messi had scored against.
The Catalans had a shaky start but took the lead in the 10th minute with a powerful header from a corner by Clement Lenglet before Messi scored a superb second in the 23rd, seeing off four defenders to curl the ball into the far bottom corner.
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.
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.
Messi had sounded the alarm after Barca’s rusty performance in the 1-1 draw in the 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’s nerves.
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.
The German champions thrashed Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate.