Great goals galore as Real Madrid beats Napoli 3-1 in Champions League (Video)

Kroos got the game-winner off a Ronaldo assist. (Getty Images)

Perhaps the only thing that was surprising about Real Madrid beating Napoli 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 bout is that the Italians took a cheeky early lead in Madrid. Real, after all, are not only the defending champions but also the towering favorites in this contest – and perhaps the entire tournament.

[ FC Yahoo: Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Blog ]

That go-ahead goal really was cheeky. In the eighth minute, Marek Hamsik sprung Lorenzo Insigne through the middle and the forward surprised everybody – and goalkeeper Keylor Navas most of all – by popping a shot from a good 35 yards out that bounced past the Costa Rican keeper.

[ Newsletter: Get 5 great stories from Yahoo Sports blogs in your inbox every day! ]


It took Zinedine Zidane’s 11-time European champions just 10 minutes to set things straight. James Rodriguez pulled a ball back to Dani Carvajal, who zipped in a sumptuous cross with the outside of his foot that Karim Benzema reached through a thicket of defenders and headed home.


Just after halftime, Cristiano Ronaldo made a vintage run up the right, scissoring his way past a defender. The trailing Toni Kroos swung his hands in the air, begging for the ball. Ronaldo, the reigning World Player of the Year, spotted him from the corner of his eye and connected with the German, whose finish was clinical and surprised goalkeeper Pepe Reina. That put Real ahead.


Finally, Real’s hardworking holding midfielder Casemiro, who specializes in the anonymous toil on the inglorious side of the ball, latched onto a broken attack in the 54th minute. After Benzema and James’s combination petered out, the ball arced out to the Brazilian. He didn’t hesitate and unloosed a savage volley that settled into the back of the net.


Napoli is hardly vanquished. Just two goals separate the sides and the proud club from Naples bagged a precious away goal. But it’ll take a lot more world-class scores to knock Real out of this tournament.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.