Napoli 1-3 Real Madrid (2-6 on aggregate): Sergio Ramos fires holders into quarter-finals
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 08/03/17 6:01am
Sergio Ramos maintained Real Madrid's bid for consecutive Champions League titles as a 3-1 victory at Napoli saw the holders progress to the quarter-finals.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Dries Mertens' 23rd goal of the season lit the blue-touch paper at the Stadio San Paolo as Napoli moved to within touching distance of a first quarter-final appearance.
But Ramos headed Real level and forced a Mertens own goal in six second-half minutes to turn the tie on its head, before a 6-2 aggregate victory was completed in stoppage-time by substitute Alvaro Morata.
Far from 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.
There were early 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.
That only whipped up an already frenzied atmosphere in Naples but 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 once more, but the momentum shifted in the 51st minute when Madrid counter-attacked swiftly and won a corner from which Ramos headed them level.
Napoli had barely had chance to recover before Madrid took the lead, again 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 would have 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.