Real Madrid Get 3-1 Home Win Over Napoli In First Leg Of Champion’s League Round Of 16
Real Madrid was widely viewed as the heavy favorite to win Wednesday’s Round of 16 game against Napoli.
Real Madrid Beat Napoli 3-1 In Champions League Round Of 16 First Leg
Madrid is the defending champion, while the Italian club last reached this stage of the tournament in 2012.
After trailing 1-0 following an early goal from Napoli, Madrid scored two second-half goals to race to a 3-1 home victory on Wednesday in a game that marked the first time the two teams met in a European competition in 30 years.
The visitors took a lead just eight minutes in after Lorenzo Insigne caught Madrid goalie Keylor Navas off guard with a fantastic volley that kept the crowd at Santiago Bernabeu mostly silent. Insigne got the assist from Napoli’s Slovak captain Marek Hamsik, who deftly cut through Madrid’s defense.
The hosts had a scoring chance in the opening minute, when Cristiano Ronaldo set up Karim Benzema for a close-range shot, but it was blocked by goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
However, ten minutes after Insigne’s goal, Benzema gave Madrid hope by scoring their first goal with a header off a stellar cross from Dani Carvajal. Benzema has now scored in his fourth straight Champions League game (five goals), matching his previous longest streak (2010-11 and 2014-15). The Frenchman is also now fifth in the competition’s all-time leading scorers, overtaking Thierry Henry.
Though Ronaldo didn’t score, he did provide the assist on Madrid’s second goal just four minutes after halftime. The Portuguese striker cut in from the right and took his time to feed the onrushing Toni Kroos, who fired a hard, low shot past Reina.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who will be 25 later this month, sealed the win for Madrid in the 54th minute with a powerful volley from far outside the box that flew past the diving Reina into the far corner.
Diego Maradona, the former Argentine star who helped transform Napoli into a dominant club during his stint with the team in the late 1980s, attended Wednesday’s game.
Napoli had several scoring chances after Casemiro’s goal, including a shot from Dries Mertens that flew over from right in front of goal with about half an hour remaining.
The Italian club will host the second-leg game on March 7, and will seek to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.
“In the second leg we’ll try to overturn the situation,” Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri said. “We need no mistakes and to create more chances. I still believe we can make it. I’m confident. I’ve told my players not to give up and the same counts for me. We need to be stronger than ever.”
Another coach who faces a challenge following a Champions League loss is Barcelona’s Luis Enrique, whose club suffered a blistering 4-0 defeat on Tuesday at Paris Saint-Germain.
Ronaldo has now gone 523 minutes without a Champions League goal– his longest drought in the competition with Real Madrid.
MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 15: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid controls the ball from Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid CF and SSC Napoli at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 15, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)