4 things we learned from Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League action

Isaac Darko

updated at February 22, 2024 at 12:15 AM

  • Porto recorded a 1-0 win over Arsenal
  • Napoli, Barcelona shared the spoils
  • Here is our analysis of the matches

Arsenal suffered a setback in Porto, while Barcelona secured a draw against Napoli in the ongoing Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday night.

To advance to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010, the Gunners will need to overturn a deficit from the first leg.

Kai Havertz reacts after Arsenal conceded a late goal against FC Porto. Photo by Michael Regan
Source: Getty Images

Barcelona will also hope to seal through when they entertain the Italian side in the return leg fixture.

Here are the four main points of analysis extracted by Sports Brief from the matches.

1. A clash between two star forwards

If you’re a fan of classic centre-forwards, then the Barcelona vs Napoli match is the one to watch.

Robert Lewandowski and Victor Osimhen both found the back of the net at the Maradona Stadium, setting the stage for an exciting second leg in Catalonia next month.

Lewandowski, with his goal, demonstrated that age is just a number, becoming Barcelona’s oldest-ever scorer in the Champions League knockout stage, per UEFA.

Victor Osimhen, Robert Lewandowski, Napoli, Barcelona
Victor Osimhen shakes hands with Robert Lewandowski after the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Napoli and Barcelona. Photo by Francesco Pecoraro.
Source: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Osimhen, in his return to the Napoli squad, clinically converted his team’s sole shot on target for the night.

These two standout strikers are bound to once again take centre stage when the teams clash at the Olympic Stadium.

2. Porto not to be underestimated

Despite Arsenal entering the match as clear favorites, Porto demonstrated the magic of the Champions League.

The Portuguese team caused trouble for Mikel Arteta’s squad throughout the entirety of the first 90 minutes and into stoppage time of the round-of-16 match on Wednesday night, with Galeno’s stunning late goal rewarding their efforts.

Sérgio Conceição’s team managed to prevent the Premier League giants from registering a single shot on target throughout the first leg, even though Arsenal dominated possession.

With a lead in hand, Porto will head to London for the second leg in March with extra motivation. However, the 30-time Portuguese champions should be cautious: Arsenal, with the support of their home crowd, will be eager to intensify their attack.

3. Yamal keeps setting record

Lamine Yamal is rapidly becoming a well-known figure in European football, achieving this feat before even turning 17.

This season, the prodigy has shattered numerous records for Barcelona, stepping up to the first team at an impressively young age.

His latest milestone was reached in Naples on Wednesday night.

By starting the match for Xavi’s team, the Spaniard set a new record as the youngest player ever to participate in a UEFA Champions League knockout stage match, at 16 years and 223 days old, per Fabrizio Romano.

Coupling this remarkable winger with talents like Pedri, Gavi, and other rising stars in Barcelona’s lineup, it’s clear to see why the fans of Los Cules are buzzing with excitement for what the future holds.

4. Difficult to shake off old ways

There’s a fresh sense of vigour surrounding Arsenal lately. The Gunners have returned to the limelight, competing in both the Premier League and the Champions League.

However, ingrained patterns persist. While a hard-fought 0-0 draw in a challenging setting might have been deemed an acceptable outcome to bring back to north London, a late stunner exacerbated Arsenal’s dismal record in the Champions League.

This marks five consecutive defeats in knockout rounds for the team from Emirates, a streak they aimed to break in Porto on Wednesday night.

Despite the disappointment, they face only a one-goal deficit to overturn at the Emirates, a venue where many teams have suffered heavy losses this season. Therefore, confidence within Mikel Arteta’s squad should remain intact.

Fans hail Osimhen

Sports Brief also reported that Osimhen’s goal against Barcelona stirred reactions from fans on social media.

The Super Eagles striker is back to his best as he found the back of the net in Napoli’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

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