SSC Napoli on Wednesday beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history, making it three Italian teams in the final eight.
Victor Osimhen continued his fine scoring record with a goal in each half and Piotr Zielinski converted a penalty in the second half as Napoli advanced 5-0 on aggregate.
Osimhen took his tally to 23 goals this season.
“It’s amazing to make history with this win, I’m happy to score two goals,” the Nigeria international said. “We want to keep on going like this, it’s beautiful to advance in this competition.”
“I think I did a great game,” he said. “The whole team did a great match against a very good team. We want to go on like this.”
It is the first time since 2006 that three Italian teams have progressed to the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition.
Osimhen believes Napoli could stun everyone and go all the way.
“We keep on dreaming, we have the squad to do so,” he said when asked if Napoli could win the Champions League. “We are on the right path, with a great coach. We’ll see what the future holds for us, I think we have a good chance.”
There are no further restrictions on teams from the same country facing each other, so Napoli could be pitted against Inter or AC Milan when the draw is made today.
The other teams in the final eight are Bayern Munich, SL Benfica, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in Wednesday’s other match to advance 6-2 on aggregate.
Napoli were brimming with confidence heading into the match at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona as they had a 2-0 lead from the first leg in Germany and appear to be a lock for the Serie A title.
There was trouble in Naples during the day as about 600 Frankfurt fans descended on the city, despite not being allowed into the match, but there did not appear to be any more incidents at the stadium.
Napoli pressed hard for the goal that would all but seal their place in the quarter-finals and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has been a revelation this season, had chances in the first half, but Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp kept his team in the match.
The deadlock was broken in first-half stoppage-time when Stanislav Lobotka gathered a loose ball and sent it through to Matteo Politano, who whipped in a cross from the right for a towering header by Osimhen.
Osimhen — who also scored in the first leg — doubled his tally on the night eight minutes after the break as he tapped in a cross from Giovanni di Lorenzo following good work by Kvaratskhelia in the buildup.
Napoli were out of sight in the 64th minute when Zielinski was tripped by Djibril Sow and the midfielder dusted himself down to drill the resulting penalty down the middle.
In Madrid, Karim Benzema struck for Real Madrid to clinch their win over Liverpool and qualification for the quarter-finals.
After the wild last-16 first-leg clash at Anfield last month left Madrid sitting pretty with a three-goal advantage, Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said that his side only had a 1 percent chance of turning the tie around.
They stemmed the bleeding at the Santiago Bernabeu, but never looked like mounting a stirring comeback of the type they managed against Barcelona in 2019 or AC Milan in the 2005 final.
“It was a complicated game, but from the start we showed we wanted to go through, and we are in the quarter-finals,” Benzema told Movistar. “Suffering is part of today’s football. Everyone wants more, but sometimes you have to suffer in a game — the most important thing is to win and go through.”
Additional reporting by AFP
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