Real Madrid take first step toward UCL quarters

Real Madrid had to have been keeping an eye on Napoli leading up to their UEFA Champions League match Wednesday night. After all Napoli was making sure they had to pay attention, notching a few routes leading up to the test in the Spanish capital. Not to mention their manager, the legendary Diego Maradona was engaging in his renowned trash talk before the Italian squad arrived.

Napoli sure did come out focused, with Lorzenzo Insigne opening up the scoring early the the eighth minute, catching keeper Keylor Navas in terrible positioning. Fed with an incredible long pass from the defense, Insigne recognized that Navas was out to far and struck the ball into the back of the net from well outside the penalty area.

However Madrid showed resolve, and did not buckle under pressure. They were threatening throughout, but Karim Benzema came up big heading in a cross from Dani Carvajal ten minutes after Insigne's goal. 

Madrid kept attacking throughout, with the look of a team on a mission to absolutely crush Napoli. Surely, they could have are they had many more shots on target. Even Madrid's less traditional goal scorers got in on the action. Toni Kroos was set up beautifully by Cristiano Ronaldo for the second goal, after Ronaldo juked a defender her found Kroos towards the edge of the area and the German did the rest.

However the play of the week went down in the 54th with Casemiro's incredible goal. James Rodriguez tried pentrating before having the ball knocked away, but Casemiro was there to hammer it off the volley and past a frozen Pepe Reina. The Brazilian's strike will surely be on the tournament's greatest goals highlight reel come season's end.

Ronaldo may have not gotten his name on the score sheet, but he was doing a fantastic job setting up teammates. Officially he had only one assist, the one to Kroos, but he should have had at least two more but Benzema was just off the mark on two others, hitting the keeper on one and the right post on the other.

Benzema's goal keeps the heat off of him for a while, as he was experiencing a goal drought that brought up Madrid's critics. Though criticism of the Frenchman has become all but habitual in the capital, and he showed he is deaf to it. With the goal against Napoli, he moves into sole possession of eighth place on Real Madrid's all-time goal scoring list, with 173 goals in 345 matches for the club.

Image via: Flickr

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