Barcelona’s new signing from Manchester City, Ferran Torres scored in his Europa League debut for the club but it was not enough as the Catalans were held in their Europa League knockout play-off first leg encounter at the Nou Camp by Napoli.
Another of the new signings Adama Traore won the penalty which was dispatched by Torres to cancel out Napoli’s lead ahead of the return leg next week. Traore received the ball from Nico Gonzalez but had no options in the Napoli box and decided to cross the ball which went straight at Meret’s arms after a deflection off Juan Jesus’ arm. A VAR review awarded the penalty and Ferran who had missed several open chances and looked less of confidence stepped up and coolly sent it in past Alex Meret to level the scores.
Kalidou Koulibaly led a resilient Napoli defence to thwart all the attacking threats of Barcelona created by their new front three of Traore, Aubameyang and Torres. Aubameyang making his first start for the Catalans was impressive for all the minutes he was on the pitch.
Ousmane Dembele who had a contract war with the Catalan and was told to get out of the club in January was brought in after 65 minutes to replace Traore and the Frenchman had a hostile reception with fans booing him whenever he touched the ball despite Xavi earlier pleading with the fans not to boo him. He however ended the match with his head high forcing the fans to applaud him for his brilliant display on the pitch.
Torres was caught on camera crying after the final whistle probably feeling sorry for the many chances he squandered in the match. He will hope to do better in the return leg next week in Italy and hopefully secure passage into the Round of 16 for the Catalans.
Meanwhile, eagle-eyed fans also caught sight of the forward’s jersey not having either of the Nike and Barcelona logos. No reasons have been given by the club for the omission which perhaps might have been accidental.