Osimhen scores to salvage a draw for Napoli in UCL clash against Barcelona

Osimhen scores to salvage a draw for Napoli in UCL clash against Barcelona
Credit: Icon Sport

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen returned to action for Napoli for the first time this year in a Champions League first leg knockout tie against Barcelona on Wednesday night.

Following a one-month-long absence from the team due to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, Osimhen made sure that Francesco Calzona's reign didn't begin with a defeat against the Spanish giants.

Under the guidance of newly appointed coach Calzona and the watchful eyes of 49,529 spectators seated to witness this crucial match, it was the Super Eagles striker who scored for Napoli to earn a 1-1 draw for the Partenopei.

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Joao Cancelo and Victor Osimhen battle for the ball during the UCL Round of 16 First Leg. Credit: Icon Sport

Robert Lewandowski had given Barcelona the lead at the 60th minute mark after a perfect pass from Pedri ensured that the Polish striker produced a fine strike into the bottom left corner.

Barcelona continued their dominance and could have extended their lead on the night following a brilliant display over Napoli in the final third that produced six shots on target, but their lack of precision in front of the goal gave the host the motivation to stage a comeback.

With 15 minutes left to regulation time, Frank Anguissa played a simple square pass into the path of the Nigerian forward in the box who composed himself and lashed the ball into the bottom left corner with Napoli's only effort on target.

How big can Victor Osimhen's equalizer be for Napoli?

The Italian side were on course for a defeat before Osimhen composed himself–after falling a bit from the challenge of a Barcelona defender–to drive forward in the box and guided his effort out of the reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Victor Osimhen in action for Napoli
Victor Osimhen challenges Ronald Araujo in the 2023/24 UCL Round of 16 First Leg. Credit: Icon Sport

The Napoli star player had previously not scored against Barcelona in European competitions after two games, but on a night the team needed him most, the Nigerian delivered to give Calzona's reign a befitting start.

With the crucial second leg encounter coming up next month and the 25-year-old firing for the Partenopei, the team can fancy their chances at getting a good result away from home as the club dreams of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the second season in a row.

Napoli will next take on Cagliari on Sunday afternoon in a Round 26 Serie A fixture. The clash will be the first league skirmish for coach Calzona who will be hoping that his star striker continues his scoring run.

So far, Osimhen has netted nine goals for Napoli across all competitions this season. Seven of those came in the Serie A, while the other two are Champions League strikes.

This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.