NAPLES- Real Madrid’s two quick-fire goals early in the second half was enough for them progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League as the champions look to defend their title.
The Estadio San Paolo was electric before kickoff with the Napoli fans having real belief that they could be in for a special night. The host’s needed to win 2-0 to progress.
Napoli started the game off very well with early chances coming from Insigne and Hamsik, but they were unable to convert their chances.
Napoli’s early pressure paid off in the 25th minute when Hamsik played in Mertens who placed the ball into the bottom right corner getting his fifth goal in eight games to make it 1-0, putting the champions’ under real pressure.
Real Madrid nearly got a goal back a couple minutes later when Cristiano Ronaldo tipped the ball past the goalkeeper to only see his shot go off the post.
Shortly after Ronaldo hit the post, Napoli nearly made it 2-0 when a rebound off Toni Kroos fell to Dries Mertens who hit the post.
Despite all of Napoli’s pressure and the crowd getting behind them,the score was just 1-0 at half-time.
Real Madrid started the second half the way Napoli started the first, with lots of energy and pressure on the Napoli defence.
Toni Kroos’ corner found Sergio Ramos who rose highest to head home the equalizer on the night making it an even tougher task for Napoli.
It went from bad to worse for Napoli, when minutes after Madrid made it 1-1, another corner was swung in by Kroos who found Ramos once again and his header re-directed off Mertens and found the top corner, making it 2-1 for the champions.
After taking the lead, Madrid took control of the game and kept possession, silencing the Napoli crowd. Napoli had a few half chances but were unable to get back into the game.
Alvaro Morata, who replaced Benzema late in the game made it 3-1 for Real Madrid and the champions eventually made it through to the quarter-finals, but it wasn’t as straight forward as the scoreboard says.
The quarter-final draw will take place in Nyon, Switzerland next Friday the 17th at 6:00am EST.