Robert Lewandowski hammered a double as Bayern Munich crushed Chelsea 4-1 in the second leg to set up a mouth-watering Champions League quarterfinal clash with Barcelona. The Spanish giants rode Lionel Messi brilliance to down Napoli 3-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday
Robert Lewandowski scored a brace as Bayern Munich trounced Chelsea 4-1 at home on Saturday to progress to the Champions League last eight 7-1 on aggregate.
The German League champions, who have won 18 straight games since February and haven’t lost since December, will face Spanish giants Barcelona, who defeated Napoli 3-1 in Saturday’s other game at Camp Nou to advance 4-2 on aggregate.
Bayern went into the game with a 3-0 lead from the first-leg at Stamford Bridge back in February. The Polish striker quickly made it 5-0 as he converted a penalty in the tenth minute and then set up Ivan Perisic’s second in the 24th.
It was Lewandowski’s 12th goal in the Champions League in this disrupted season, and he didn’t wait too long for his 13th. The goal machine headed home in the closing period of the game to finalise it 4-1.
The 31 year old lethal striker, who has scored 53 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions this season, now has a good chance to challenge Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League record of 17 goals in a single season.
“We wanted to win the game and show we were picking up where we left off,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick told Sky after the match.
“As with any opponent, we have the requisite respect, and we’re going to prepare well,” the German coach said when talking about quarterfinals rivals Barcelona.
Chelsea pulled a goal back before the half-time through Tammy Abraham after Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made a mistake.
“It’s a good exercise for us to go up against Bayern and their Champions League experience, with a lot of our players having debut seasons,” said Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
In the other duel on Saturday, Barcelona cruised past Serie A side Napoli 3-1 in a game in which Lionel Messi fired a brilliant solo goal and won a penalty which was converted by Luis Suarez.
Five-time Champions League champions Barcelona took an early lead when Clement Lenglet headed in Ivan Rakitic’s corner after ten minutes, which also put the Spanish side 2-1 ahead on aggregate.
Then it was Messi’s showtime. The all-time leading scorer for Barcelona wriggled past three defenders, before bending a shot between another two Napoli players and into the far side of David Ospina’s goal.
The Barcelona captain could have scored another just seven minutes later, but his goal was canceled by VAR for handling the ball in controlling Frenkie de Jong’s pass.
Another VAR review then awarded Barca a penalty in first-half injury time after Messi was brought down by Kalidou Koulibaly, and Suarez stepped up to score his 25th Champions League goal.
Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back from the penalty spot just before the break, after Ivan Rakitic fouled Mertens.
Barcelona manager Quique Setien said, “This was the first forward step we wanted and now it is to be hoped we play the matches in front of us with the same attitude which we demonstrated here.
“The team played well and we deserved this. All the rivals who are left are strong and there are only complicated matches left. It will be tough for us but for Bayern too. They’re a great side but so are we.”
Reflecting on defeat, Napoli boss Gattuso said: “We have a lot to regret, we disappeared for half an hour and conceded incredible goals. I am angry we conceded from a set piece.
“We didn’t have enough consistency, even though we started well and could have scored in the opening minutes. My players are strong, but to become even better they need to improve in their attitude. I am disappointed, I believe we could have done better.”
After finishing second in the domestic La Liga with five points off arch-rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona are now putting all their efforts on the Champions League as they try to win ther sixth title in the continental elite competition.
Barca and Bayern’s mouth-watering quarterfinal showdown is scheduled for next Friday in Lisbon, Portugal and will be played as single-leg format.
Barcelona have not tasted success in Europe’s elite competition since 2015.
“Everyone has a chance in a single game, it’s 50-50,” Suaraz told Movistar.
“Bayern are a great opponent, they are a contender for the title, like all eight teams in Lisbon, but it is 11 against 11 in 90 minutes,” the Uruguayan striker said.
The two teams’ last encounter in the event was in 2014-2015 season’s semifinals when Barcelona won 5-3 on aggregate including a 3-0 win at home.
Pirlo replaces sacked Sarri as Juventus coach
Former Italy and Juventus star Andrea Pirlo was appointed the Italian champions’ new coach on Saturday, just hours after Maurizio Sarri’s sacking with the club promising a ‘new chapter in world football’.
Sarri, 61, leaves Juventus after just one season, a day after the Italian giants crashed out of the Champions League in the last-16 to French club Lyon.
The 41 year old Pirlo, with no previous top-level coaching experience, recently took over the Juventus U23 side and arrives on a two-year contract.
“The choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes,” Juventus said.
“Today, begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football: from Maestro to Mister.”
Sarri took over on a three-year contract last summer, after leading Chelsea to a Europa League triumph, but failed to deliver on the promised revolution in style on the pitch.
Pirlo’s swift appointment, a day after their Champions League exit, is again a bold choice for club president Andrea Agnelli.
Champions League quarterfinals
August 12 Atalanta vs Paris St-Germain August 13 RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid
August 14 Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
August 15 Manchester City vs Lyon
(All matches to kick-off at 11pm, Oman time)
(With inputs from agencies)