Real Madrid shrugged off conceding an early away goal to take a huge step towards a seventh straight UEFA Champions League quarterfinal as goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro sealed a 3-1 win over Napoli on Wednesday night.
Lorenzo Insigne’s stunning 40-yard strike had the travelling hordes in dream land after just eight minutes of the last 16 first leg.
However, Benzema soon headed home an equaliser before Kroos and Casemiro fired home from outside the box early in the second half to give the holders a commanding lead ahead of the second leg on March 7.
With former Napoli great Diego Maradona watching on, the atmosphere reached fever pitch before kick-off as up to 10, 000 travelling fans were estimated to have made the trip from Naples for only their side’s second ever appearance in the last 16.
Maradona even gave the Napoli players a pep talk in the dressing room before kick-off.
By contrast, Real are in the knockout stages for the 20th straight season and it was the home fans who nearly had something to cheer inside 30 seconds as Benzema’s shot from close range was parried by Pepe Reina.
However, it was Napoli who got off to the perfect start just eight minutes in when Insigne took aim from 40 yards and caught Madrid ‘keeper Keylor Navas out of position with a superb effort that curled around the Costa Rica international.