Rakitic punishes Milik howler as Barcelona edge past Napoli

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Ivan Rakitic scored the winner as La Liga champions Barcelona overcame Napoli 2-1 on Thursday (AEST) in the first of two friendlies in the United States.

After Arkadiusz Milik's embarrassing miss for Napoli, Barca midfielder Rakitic found the back of the net with an unstoppable 79th-minute half-volley in Miami Gardens.

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Barca – who will face Napoli again in Michigan on Sunday (AEST) – saw Sergio Busquets' opener cancelled out by Samuel Umtiti's own goal three minutes prior to half-time.

Barcelona played without Lionel Messi due to a calf strain, but Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Rakitic, Umtiti and Busquets were in the XI, while Junior Firpo – who arrived from Real Betis this week – made his debut.

Napoli's starting side was headlined by skipper Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon, with recruits Kostas Manolas and Eljif Elmas also in the line-up.

Insigne, Mertens and Callejon wreaked havoc in the first half – Ernesto Valverde's Barca fortunate not to concede first against Napoli.

Playing their trademark passing football, Napoli unlocked Barca's struggling defence but Insigne and Mertens were denied by goalkeeper Neto in quick succession.

Napoli had a golden opportunity to take the lead but an unmarked Mertens side-footed wide of the post in the six-yard box after Callejon slid in a low cross just past the half-hour mark.

For all their good football, Napoli fell behind in the 38th minute when Busquets was afforded too much space on the edge of the area as he found the inside of the far post.

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Barca's lead was short-lived, however, after Callejon cut through on goal and saw his shot helped over the line by defender Umtiti four minutes later.

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After Barca struggled defensively in the opening half, it was Napoli's turn in the second 45 minutes, with Alex Meret keeping his side on level terms, having twice thwarted substitute Abel Ruiz within seven minutes of the restart.

Mistakes crept into Napoli's game and substitute Ousmane Dembele almost restored Barca's lead, but his stunning effort from outside of the area rattled the post with 22 minutes remaining.

At the other end, Neto got down low to turn Milik's goal-bound effort away for a corner moments later while the Napoli forward embarrassingly chested a ball over the crossbar with an open goal at his mercy.

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Milik paid the price for his inexcusable miss as Rakitic fired a thunderous low shot past Meret 11 minutes from the end.

Source Omnisport