Spanish giants Real Madrid showed class when they came back from a goal down to beat Napoli 3-1 in their Champions League Last 16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
That was coming just a day after their eternal rivals ,Barcelona suffered a humiliating defeat in Paris, Real kept their cool to take a massive step towards a seventh straight quarterfinal through goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro after the visitors had taken an early lead.
Zinedine Zidane’s men made a strong start to the game with Benzema testing Pepe Reina from close range, but it was Napoli who shot into the lead after eight minutes when Lorenzo Insigne spotted Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas off his line and curled a 40-yard effort past him to send the Azzurri fans, including Diego Maradona, into raptures.
But the hosts got themselves level 10 minutes later when Dani Carvajal’s cross with the outside of his right boot was powerfully turned in by Benzema for his 51st Champions League goal.
The tie swung in Madrid’s favour 10 minutes after the restart when Ronaldo’s cutback was swept in by Toni Kroos from inside the area and moments later, holding midfielder Casemiro blasted a stunning 25-yard volley to make it 3-1 and give his side a commanding lead ahead of the return leg on March 7.
In the night’s other fixture, Thiago Alcantara bagged a brace as Bayern Munich romped to a 5-1 defeat of a shambolic Arsenal at the Allianz Arena.
The future of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has never been more uncertain as the Gunners now sit on the cusp of a seventh straight Champions League last-16 exit.
Alexis Sanchez scored off a rebound from his saved penalty to draw Arsenal level after the ageless Arjen Robben had given Carlo Ancelotti’s men a deserved lead, but three goals in 10 frenetic second half minutes from Robert Lewandowski, Alcantara, who scored twice and a late Thomas Muller effort ensured the Bavarians extended their Champions League record to 16 straight home wins.
Bayern, who knocked Arsenal out at the same stage in 2005, 2013 and 2014, now look comfortably placed to advance to the last eight of Europe’s elite competition.