Barça draw with Napoli in Europa League

Sports Desk, Feb 17 (EFE).- FC Barcelona managed only a 1-1 draw with Napoli in Thursday’s first leg of the Europa League round of 32 tie.

After crashing out of the Champions League in the group stage for the first time since 2003-2004, the Blaugrana – currently 15 points off the pace in LaLiga – must get past a Napoli side who are in the thick of the Serie A title race to reach the last 16 of the second-tier continental competition.

Barça dominated possession and outshot the visitors 21-4 at Camp Nou, but suffered from a lack of precision in the final third.

Piotr Zielinski put Napoli ahead in the 29th minute, beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen on his second attempt after the goalkeeper turned aside the first shot.

The hosts pulled level at the hour mark thanks to a penalty. Napoli’s Juan Jesus was cited for a hand ball and Ferran Torres converted from the spot.

Torres fired over the cross-bar in the 88th minute on Barcelona’s best chance for a winner, so the tie will be decided next Thursday at Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Naples.

Sevilla, who have won the Europa League a record six times, took a big step toward securing their spot in the round of 16 on Thursday by defeating Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 on goals by Ivan Rakitic, Lucas Ocampos and Anthony Martial, newly acquired from Manchester United.

Sevilla’s cross-town rivals, Real Betis, are also well placed to advance after topping Zenit 3-2 in St. Petersburg.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Rangers won 4-2 away to Borussia Dortmund, Atalanta edged Olympiacos 2-1, RB Leipzig and Real Sociedad drew 2-2, Porto nipped Lazio 2-1 and Sheriff defeated Braga 2-0. EFE apa/dr

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