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Champions League PIX: Porto down Arsenal; Barca-Napoli play drab draw

February 22, 2024 09:24 IST
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IMAGES from the UEFA Champions League matches played on Wednesday

Galeno's late stunner gives Porto win over Arsenal

Porto's Galeno celebrates his goal against Arsenal at Estadio do Dragao, Porto, Portugal, on Wednesday

IMAGE: Porto's Galeno celebrates scoring the late winner against Arsenal in their Champions League, Round of 16 First Leg match at Estadio do Dragao, Porto, Portugal. Photograph: UEFA Champions League/X

Porto snatched a shock last-gasp 1-0 victory over Arsenal as Galeno netted a sublime effort deep in stoppage time in their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

A drab clash was deadlocked until the fifth minute of added time when the Brazilian winger curled an unstoppable effort past David Raya to send the Estadio Do Dragao crowd wild.


Arsenal, who had scored 21 goals in their last five Premier League games, were strangely subdued in attack and failed to register an effort on target throughout a cagey contest.

They defended solidly enough but may live to regret their lack of urgency as Galeno gave Porto the edge ahead of the second leg in London on March 12.

Arsenal are seeking to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010 with their last seven Champions League campaigns all ending in the last 16.

"We had to manage the game better when you can't win," Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. "We lacked threat and aggression in the final third and we need to tweak a few things. We can do better.

"If you want to be in the quarter-finals you have to beat your opponent and this is what we will have to do at the Emirates now."

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka vies with FC Porto's Wendell  

IMAGE: Arsenal's Bukayo Saka in action with FC Porto's Wendell. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Reassuringly for Arsenal, Porto have a terrible record away against English clubs and have never scored at Arsenal, conceding 11 in three visits.

But the 30-time Portuguese champions will travel with hope.

Arteta's side controlled possession throughout the game but apart from a couple of headers from William Saliba and Kai Havertz, both from corners, they never really looked like scoring.

Porto grew in confidence and somehow failed to go ahead in the 21st minute after a slick counter-attack.

Galeno thumped a powerful shot against the far post and when the ball came back to him at pace in a flash he placed the rebound agonisingly wide of the other post.

With the 40-year-old Pepe, the oldest player to appear in a Champions League knockout round game, showing his vast experience at the back, Porto comfortably dealt with Arsenal's attack and kept England forward Bukayo Saka quiet.

Porto occasionally threatened and had another chance shortly before the break when Evanilson drove a shot at Raya.

The second half was even less exciting than the first with Arsenal struggling to gain any rhythm against their wily hosts.

But the best was saved to last as Galeno seized on a loose ball and advanced to the edge of the penalty area before looking up and bending a shot past Raya.

"It was a kick in the teeth," Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice said. "We have to change our approach in the home leg and give it absolutely everything."

Napoli fight back to draw with Barcelona in dull game

FC Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski scores their first goal against Napoli during their Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski scores their first goal against Napoli during their Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Napoli fought back to hold visitors Barcelona to a dour 1-1 draw in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday as Victor Osimhen cancelled out Robert Lewandowski's opener.

Last year's Spanish and Italian champions, both struggling this season, played out a poor match in which both sides were toothless and lacking attacking flair.

Third in the LaLiga standings eight points behind leaders Real Madrid, Barcelona dominated the first half against a disorganised Napoli who barely managed to get out of their own half.

"It is not a good result for the return leg," Barca manager Xavi Hernandez told Movistar Plus.

"We were better in all aspects of the game, we had to control and we struggled, we weren't effective up front, it was a summary of our season."

Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years while Napoli were led by new coach Francesco Calzona with their Serie A title defence in tatters as they languish ninth in the domestic standings.

Napoli's Giovanni Simeone in action with FC Barcelona's Inigo Martinez 

IMAGE: Napoli's Giovanni Simeone in action with FC Barcelona's Inigo Martinez. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Napoli were frustrated by Barca's high pressing, missing simple passes and gifting the ball to the visitors who also looked short of ideas in possession.

Teenager Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to appear in the knockout phase of the Champions League at 16 years and 223 days, was also bidding to become the tournament's youngest scorer but he sent an early effort wide and had a strike from distance saved by goalkeeper Alex Meret.

Ilkay Gundogan twice shot wide for Barca before Poland striker Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the 60th minute.

He received a pass from Pedri just inside the box and made space to unleash a bullet strike into the bottom corner of the net.

That woke Napoli up and Nigerian Osimhen, playing his first game since the Africa Cup of Nations, equalised 15 minutes later with a fine swivelling strike from inside the box to leave the tie evenly poised ahead of the return leg in Spain on March 12.

"We have a lot of work to do, but I congratulated the team for rediscovering the desire to fight," Calzona told Amazon Prime Video Italia.

"We struggled at the start but I really liked the spirit of the side. The players gave their heart and soul to avoid defeat against a very strong opponent."

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