Naples: Fighting broke out in Naples on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) ahead of Napoli’s Champions League 3-0 last-16 second-leg win over Eintracht Frankfurt, as supporters set a police car on fire and threw stones at buses in the city centre.
The Italian authorities banned fans living in Frankfurt from attending the stadium for the match amid concerns about possible violence, but a group of the German club’s supporters made the trip to Italy anyway. Those who stayed away didn’t miss much, with two goals to Arsenal transfer target Victor Osimhen and a penalty to Piotr Zielinski securing a 5-0 aggregate win for the runaway Serie A leaders.
In Thursday’s other match, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 thanks to Karim Benzema’s 78th minute strike to record a 6-2 win in the tie following their come-from-behind 5-2 win at Anfield last month.
Footage showed Frankfurt supporters clashing with anti-riot forces and a police car in flames, with objects being tossed towards the police. Overturned tables and chairs lay smashed on the ground as police tried to tame the rioting fans.
Italian media said home supporters threw stones and bottles at buses carrying the Eintracht fans, damaging one window. Some 600 of them travelled from Germany, where Napoli won the first leg 2-0.
“These are not fans, they are criminals, thugs. I wonder if they would make the same mess in Germany?,” Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini wrote on Instagram, while expressing his “full support” for police on the ground.
Fans and police clash with Naples ahead of the last-16 Champions League clash between Napoli and Eintracht Frankfurt.Credit:AP
Fans of both teams clashed prior to the first leg in Frankfurt with police having labelled the game as high risk.
Eintracht were informed last week of Italy’s decision not to allow their fans into the stadium, with the club reacting angrily and calling the decision “an unacceptable interference”.
In Madrid, the 14-time champions celebrated their 300th Champions League match by eliminating the side they defeated in last year’s final.
Liverpool never really came close to overcoming their three-goal deficit from the first leg against the title-holders at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday. Juergen Klopp’s side were trying to pull off something never done before in the Champions League — erase a three-goal loss as the visitors. Only five times the team who lost at home rallied in the second leg in Europe’s top club competition.
UEFA Champions League round of 16
Aggregate scores after two legs:
- Bayern Munich 3 bt Paris Saint-Germain 0
- AC Milan bt Tottenham 1-0
- Benfica bt Club Brugge 7-1
- Chelsea bt Borussia Dortmund 2-1
- Inter Milan bt Porto 1-0
- Manchester City 8 bt RB Leipzig 1
- Real Madrid bt Liverpool 6-2
- Napoli bt Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0
The only time Madrid failed to advance in the Champions League after winning the first leg on the road was in 2019, when they were eliminated by Ajax in the round of 16. They had won six of their last seven matches against Liverpool in the tournament, drawing another.
Napoli and Real Madrid join AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Manchester City in the draw for the quarter-finals on Friday.
Benzema scored from close range after a pass by Vinicius jnr in the 79th minute. The France striker, who had missed Madrid’s Spanish league win against Espanyol last weekend because of an injury, has scored 13 goals in his last eight Champions League knockout stage matches.
Liverpool came out with an attack-minded line-up and showed their intentions early, with Darwin Nunez forcing Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a tough save on a breakaway seven minutes into the match.
Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema celebrates his goal against Liverpool.Credit:AP
It was an open match and Madrid had their chances as well, with Eduardo Camavinga coming close to scoring in the 20th with a shot from outside the area that struck the crossbar after a deflection by Alisson Becker. The Liverpool goalkeeper also stopped a chance by Vinicius in the first half and another in the second in a one-on-one situation with midfielder Federico Valverde.
Klopp kept trying to push his team forward from the sideline, but as the minutes passed it became clear it wasn’t going to be enough.
Liverpool had managed a big comeback at home in the 2019 semi-finals, rallying against another Spanish club, Barcelona. The Reds won 4-0 after losing 3-0 at the Camp Nou to keep alive a run that eventually ended with the team winning the trophy.
Meanwhile, in the Premier League relegation-threatened Crystal Palace and Southampton lost to Brighton and Brentford respectively.
Southampton’s 2-0 loss to Brentford sees them anchored to the bottom of the table on 22 points, five adrift of Palace in 12th after 27 games. Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, West Ham, Bournemouth and Leeds all hold a game in hand over the Saints, Palace, Wolves and Everton with just five points separating nine clubs in the second half of the ladder.
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