Real Madrid-Napoli: Casemiro got the goal Real needed
Bernabéu stunned by early Insigne strike
Real Madrid came flying out of the traps in a manner reminiscent of ties past in the old European Cup. They pinned Napoli back and, right from the kick-off, carved out a chance for Karim Benzema that Pepe Reina got a strong, veteran's hand to to keep out. Roared on by a fired-up home crowd, two or three more forward charges followed - before suddenly the visitors broke, found Lorenzo Insigne and, seeing Keylor Navas poorly positioned in his area, he fed the ball into the net from 35 yards. A real sucker punch. The Italians had got themselves a priceless away goal, which is the aim of every side playing the first leg on the road. Do that, and then take it from there. Real now needed at least three. An uphill battle.
Madrid quickly level through excellent Benzema
They managed it by taking a less epic route than these continental nights at the Bernabéu tend to demand, instead playing sensible, neatly constructed stuff and making sure not to throw caution completely to the wind. Thankfully, the equaliser wasn't long in coming. James Rodríguez (a surprise inclusion in the line-up) led an attack down the right that brought a sublime outside-of-the-boot cross from Dani Carvajal to the edge of the six-yard box, where Benzema out-jumped Raúl Albiol and planted a firm header past Reina. A great goal, and a fitting reward for Benzema, who was terrific: he was at his lucid best when participating in the build-up play and got himself into good shooting positions. He hit the post with another effort.
Two fine second-half goals mean it's advantage Real
The second 45 began with Napoli on top, only for Real Madrid to twice catch them out. First Toni Kroos scored from Cristiano Ronaldo's pass, the forward winging his way to the byline, spotting the German's run to the top of the box and laying it off for him to steer it in from his favourite position. Shortly afterwards, on another attack, the ball bounced back to Casemiro and he thumped in a sensational volley. A man usually focused on the dirty work, this time he sees his name up in lights. Thanks to that quickfire double and a good general showing, Real come away with a 3-1 first-leg lead that ought to do. Napoli's quality going forward means they remain a threat, but a two-goal advantage is a superb platform for the return. We'll see how it all concludes at the San Paolo in three weeks.
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