Real Madrid roar back to claim victory over Napoli

Real Madrid welcomed Napoli to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night, and saw a fiercely contested first leg of the Champions League round of 16.

The second leg is at the Stadio San Paolo on March 7.

There was hardly time to take a breath in the opening five minutes of action as Real Madrid continued to force the issue, but Napoli were a danger when they had the chance to counter through Callejon, Dries Mertens and Insigne.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo eyes a ball during a training session at the Valdebebas stadium ahead of Wednesday's Champions League soccer match between Real Madrid and Napoli, in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017.

Isco restored Real's lead in the 62nd and Zinedine Zidane's side added a third through Vazquez with the last kick of the game.

It was a attractive response for Napoli and one that will be treasured for a long time.

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Madrid midfielder and Bale's former teammate at Tottenham Hotspur Luka Modric insisted his presence has been missed, despite Real's sensational form hardly skipping a beat since he suffered the injury away to Sporting Lisbon on November 22.

Maurizio Sarri and his Napoli team can take heart from the fact that Madrid do tend to struggle against Italian sides. We're going step by step and game by game.

Real Madrid recognized that, identified their opponents' weaknesses, and set themselves up to exploit those weaknesses in the second half.

From there on it was mostly one-way traffic through the first half. "We hope to keep getting results and achieving our objectives, which after all is what determines a coach's stay at a club". Madrid recognized that Napoli were having issues with wide attackers cutting in, and Cristiano Ronaldo used that to his advantage, taking the previously-impressive Kalidou Koulibaly to the touchline and turning him inside-out before slipping a ideal assist in to Toni Kroos.

Napoli Striker Arkadiusz Milik will be fit for the fixture after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury he sustained in Serie A. Defender Lorenzo Tonelli has also traveled with the squad.

  • Regina Holmes