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regular-article-logo Sunday, 25 February 2024

Napoli reach Champions League quarters for first time

Victor Osimhen struck either side of the break to steer Italian league leaders to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday

Reuters Naples Published 17.03.23, 05:45 AM
Victor Osimhen leaps high to head home Napoli’s first goal against Eintracht Frankfurt at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples on Wednesday.

Victor Osimhen leaps high to head home Napoli’s first goal against Eintracht Frankfurt at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples on Wednesday. Getty Images

Napoli forward Victor Osimhen struck either side of the break to steer the Italian league leaders to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday and into the Champions League quarter finals for the first time.

The 24-year-old Nigeria international, who also scored in their 2-0 win over Eintracht in Germany, scored with a header in first-half stoppage time.

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Osimhen bagged his 23rd goal in 28 matches in all competitions this season with a tap-in after a quick fourpass Napoli combination in the 53rd minute before Piotr Zielinski converted a penalty to secure a 5-0 aggregate win.

Napoli are the third Italian team to advance to the quarters after Inter and AC Milan.

“It wasn’t easy, but we managed to reach a historical goal for Napoli,” coach Luciano Spalletti said. “I hope we enjoy it now with the whole team and together with the fans.”

“It is important to have the attitude we had tonight (Wednesday). At the beginning, we didn’t have much quality, but we did well and didn’t concede.”

“Osimhen is a very strong footballer. He is able to cut behind defenders, and now he is also playing more with the team, and we’re happy.”

Prior to the game, fighting out in the Italian city as fans set a police car on fire and threw stones at buses and police.

It was peaceful inside the Diego Maradona stadium and the hosts were in control from the start.

Osimhen opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time after being given far too much space in the box to rise high and head in a measured Matteo Politano cross.

That meant Europa League champions Frankfurt needed three goals, but they struggled against a well-drilled Napoli defence.

Benzema strikes

Real Madrid cruised into the quarter finals as Karim Benzema’s second-half goal secured a comfortable 1-0 win over Liverpool that wrapped up a 6-2 aggregate victory.

Bidding to win back-toback Champions League titles and a record-extending 15th European crown, a disciplined Real seemed content to sit back against a tame Liverpool who carried little threat for most of the game.

Real spurned several opportunities to open the scoring as they looked to exploit Vinicius Jr’s speed on the counter-attack but could not break the deadlock until late in the second half. They sealed victory in the 79th minute when Vinicius flicked a loose ball inside the area to Benzema who tapped it into the empty net.

“There are no easy wins in the Champions League and it was a complicated match, but we showed from the beginning how serious we are in our desire to go far in the competition this season,” Benzema told Movistar Plus.

“Football today is about suffering. Everyone wants more. You always have to suffer.”

In need of a three-goal win after losing 5-2 at home, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp picked a very attacking team with forwards Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez in the starting line-up.

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