Zinedine Zidane’s men qualified for the last eight of the UEFA Champions League following a 6-2 aggregate victory over Napoli, yet again turning over the Italian opposition 3-1.

The home side started off as the stronger of the two teams, pressing Real Madrid high up the pitch with the objective of not allowing them to keep possession.

The first 10 minutes or so saw very few chances, with only an attempt from Hamsik trickling wide to show for Napoli’s early pressure.

At the 14 minute mark, Insigne’s audacious effort from outside of the box was parried out for a corner after Keylor Navas was unaware of his surroundings, despite the effort going off target in the first place.

Real Madrid didn’t make too many chances themselves at this point either, with only Kroos’ and Bale’s tame efforts from outside of the box being easily gathered by Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

After 24 minutes of this encounter, Napoli finally had something to show for all their dominance. Brilliant link-up play in attack saw Marek Hamsik slot a perfect ball through to Dries Mertens who fired across Keylor Navas with his left foot to put the hosts 1-0 up, only leaving them needing one more goal to advance.

However, Los Blancos responded immediately, after Ronaldo rounded Pepe Reina at the 29-minute mark, only to see his effort from a tight angle come crashing back off the post.

It was all the visitors at this point, but it was Dries Mertens yet again who found himself with acres of space to shoot, but just like Ronaldo’s chance 10 minutes earlier, his crack at goal could only come off the post, leaving the hosts to go 1-0 up at the break.

With Zizou’s men knowing that they’ll need to score if they want to put the tie to bed, they began strongly in the second half.

On 51 minutes, it was none other than captain Sergio Ramos who drew the Spaniards level, after his bullet header connected with Toni Kroos’ inswinging corner.

Real Madrid then took the lead after 57 minutes when Dries Mertens nodded home into his own net after another header at goal from Sergio Ramos, putting the visitors 2-1 up on the night.

The period which followed didn’t see much else happen, as Mertens’ own goal essentially put the entire tie to bed, leaving Napoli needing a 5-2 victory on the night in order to advance.

Napoli had a soft shout for a penalty midway through the second half after Mertens felt he was pushed in the box by Lucas Vazquez only for his appeal to be waved away by referee Cuneyt Cakir.

Dani Carvajal then went up the other end and almost found himself on the scoresheet, cleverly flicking the ball past the Napoli defence, only for his left-foot finish to let him down when he was through on goal.

The visitors’ second-half masterclass just proved too much for Napoli, after substitute Alvaro Morata thumped the ball into an empty net in stoppage time following a strike from Cristiano Ronaldo which forced Pepe Reina into making a save, putting his side 3-1 up and cruising through into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid have now qualified for the quarter-final stage for the 7th consecutive season, where they will join five-time winners Bayern Munich who defeated Arsenal 5-1 (10-2 aggregate) at the Emirates Stadium in the other tie of the night.




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I'm a lifelong supporter of Real Madrid, and having grown up in South London I also go to Crystal Palace matches quite regularly. I enjoy all levels of football, and I go to watch live games almost every week, ranging from the Premier League to women's football. Follow me on Twitter @_kubap5 and check out my blog at thefootyjourney.blogspot.com

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