Sergio Ramos Fires Real Madrid Into The Quarter Finals

Football Soccer - Napoli v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg - San Paolo stadium, Naples, Italy - 07/03/17 - Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring against Napoli. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Sergio Ramos helped Real Madrid record a 3-1 victory at Napoli, seeing the holders progress to the quarter-finals. Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Dries Mertens’ 23rd goal of the season gave Napoli hope of a first quarter-final appearance. Up stepped Sergio Ramos, the captain headed Real level and forced a Mertens own goal during six minutes in the second period. The 6-2 aggregate victory was completed in stoppage-time by substitute Alvaro Morata.

Real Madrid were not at their best, it was Real’s experience which told in the end as Zinedine Zidane secured a seventh-successive appearance in the last eight of Europe’s elite-club competition for the 11-time champions. Napoli appeared full of belief in the first half as they kept a Madrid side featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema on the back foot.

Napoli had a host of chances for Mertens, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne before the deadlock was broken. The goal came in the 24th minute as Hamsik’s early pass picked out the run of Mertens down the left and the Belgian fired a shot low across goal and beyond the reach of Keylor Navas.

Madrid were quick to counter, going close to levelling the scores when Ronaldo’s run split the defence and he sent a shot against the post just before the half hour. Napoli appeared to heed the warning as they reasserted control, with Kalidou Koulibaly heading over and Mertens striking a shot against the outside of the post. The hosts emerged for the second half full of running, however the momentum shifted in the 51st minute when Madrid counter-attacked swiftly and won a corner from which Ramos headed them level.Napoli barely had chance to recover before Madrid took the lead from a corner. Once more Toni Kroos was the provider as Ramos headed on target and Mertens turned the ball beyond Pepe Reina. That proved pretty much conclusive as Napoli struggled to regroup and reassert themselves in the match. Dani Carvajal had a golden chance to add to Madrid’s margin of victory as the match moved into the final 10 minutes, but spooned the ball horribly over with the goal gaping.

Instead Morata had the final word as he rifled home Madrid’s third of the night and sixth of the tie in stoppage-time, rifling home a rebound after Reina found Ronaldo’s shot too hot to handle.