Real Madrid come from behind to earn Napoli advantage

Date published: Wednesday 15th February 2017 10:30

Two goals in five second-half minutes saw Real Madrid come from behind to beat Napoli 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.

Brazilian Casemiro scored a stunning second-half goal to cap a thrilling comeback after Lorenzo Insigne’s audacious eighth-minute opener had threatened to pull off an upset for the visitors.

Karim Benzema equalised for the hosts within 10 minutes before Toni Kroos put Real in front and Casemiro lashed a 30-yard volley past Jose Reina to complete an impressive victory.

Keen to avoid the same kind of humiliation endured by LaLiga rivals Barcelona – defeated 4-0 at Paris St Germain on Tuesday – Real started with plenty of intent, with Benzema bringing a superb save out of Reina in the first minute.

But Insigne had other ideas and he put Napoli in front when he raced onto a perfect threaded through-ball by Marek Hamsik before spotting goalkeeper Keylor Navas way off his line and stroking a low bouncing effort into the net from fully 35 yards.

Napoli’s opener stunned the home side into action, with Benzema missing with a weak header after being set up by Cristiano Ronaldo, before the Frenchman grabbed the leveller with 18 minutes on the clock.

Dani Carvajal dredged up a deep cross from the right byline and Benzema jumped high enough in a crowded box to send a glancing header into the net past a helpless Reina.

The home side should have increased their lead in the 27th minute when Ronaldo was guilty of an uncharacteristic blunder after being sent clear by Luka Modric.

Ronaldo found himself one on one with the advancing Reina but, instead of firing his side into the lead, he inexplicably blazed his chance high over the bar.

Hamsik could have made Real pay five minutes later but he fired just wide with a good chance from an Insigne cross.

In the last act of a richly entertaining first half, it was Real who almost grabbed the advantage when Benzema’s shot beat Reina but struck the base of the post, before Raphael Varane flashed a header wide from the resulting corner.

Napoli started the second half on the front foot but Kroos made it 2-1 four minutes after the restart by steering a first-time shot past Reina from Ronaldo’s inch-perfect right-wing cross.

And Casemiro lit up the Bernabeu in the 54th minute when he pounced on a half-clearance to drill a magnificent looping volley past Reina from long range.

Ronaldo and Casemiro would both miss further chances for Real before Napoli rallied, and they should have reduced the deficit on 68 minutes when Dries Mertens blazed a simple chance over the bar after being set up by Jose Callejon.

Napoli kept pushing for a potentially crucial second goal and they almost got it in the dying minutes when Callejon bundled the ball home from Insigne’s header down, but it was ruled narrowly offside.

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