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Ramos, Morata strike as Real crush Napoli hopes

By The Assam Tribune
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NAPLES, March 8: Captain Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata struck one apiece as 11-time winners Real Madrid secured a seventh successive Champions League quarterfinal berth with a clinical 3-1 win over a spirited Napoli on Tuesday.

�We�re happy to have won,� said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. �We suffered a lot in the opening half when they had us under a lot of pressure.

�But after a good talk about what we had to do in the second half, we were much better.�

Real, who took a commanding 3-1 first leg lead at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, looked to be facing a tough night in Naples after Dries Mertens finished off a great attacking move to give the hosts a 24th minute lead.

But Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri had warned of the threat from the �world�s richest club, with the best players� a day earlier.

And Zidane�s �Galacticos� emerged from the half-time interval in far more clinical fashion.

Ramos rose to head Real level six minutes after the restart and a second header which deflected off Mertens at Pepe Reina�s near post gave the Spaniards a 2-1 lead by the 57th minute.

Napoli saw late claims for a penalty waved away when Mertens tumbled in the box and suffered more woe in the first minute of added-on time when ex-Juventus striker Alvaro Morata came off the bench to hit their third for a 6-2 aggregate score.

�The second goal took away practically any chance we had of trying to qualify, we probably need a little bit more aggression at the corner to try and put him off,� said Sarri.

�It leaves us with a bitter taste because for the opening 55 minutes we were far superior.

�But that�s mostly because our fans had so much expectations on us. We�re sorry for our public, because we feel they deserved a lot more.

�But this (Real) is a team with great talent that, physically, were superior to us.�

Napoli required nothing short of a miracle if they were to reach the last eight for the first time � although a bright opening reflected a growing belief in the football-mad southern city that the Azzurri could cause an upset.

Maurizio Sarri�s men had 11 shots in the opening period, the most Real had seen in a Champions League game since facing 15 against Juventus in 2013.

But neither Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne or Hamsik got shots past Reina in a busy opening period that had most of the 56,695 crowd in full voice.

On Real�s first real foray, Luka Modric outmanoeuvred Kalidou Koulibaly to deliver a back-post cross that Reina collected after a mix-up between Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. � AFP

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Ramos, Morata strike as Real crush Napoli hopes

NAPLES, March 8: Captain Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata struck one apiece as 11-time winners Real Madrid secured a seventh successive Champions League quarterfinal berth with a clinical 3-1 win over a spirited Napoli on Tuesday.

�We�re happy to have won,� said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. �We suffered a lot in the opening half when they had us under a lot of pressure.

�But after a good talk about what we had to do in the second half, we were much better.�

Real, who took a commanding 3-1 first leg lead at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, looked to be facing a tough night in Naples after Dries Mertens finished off a great attacking move to give the hosts a 24th minute lead.

But Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri had warned of the threat from the �world�s richest club, with the best players� a day earlier.

And Zidane�s �Galacticos� emerged from the half-time interval in far more clinical fashion.

Ramos rose to head Real level six minutes after the restart and a second header which deflected off Mertens at Pepe Reina�s near post gave the Spaniards a 2-1 lead by the 57th minute.

Napoli saw late claims for a penalty waved away when Mertens tumbled in the box and suffered more woe in the first minute of added-on time when ex-Juventus striker Alvaro Morata came off the bench to hit their third for a 6-2 aggregate score.

�The second goal took away practically any chance we had of trying to qualify, we probably need a little bit more aggression at the corner to try and put him off,� said Sarri.

�It leaves us with a bitter taste because for the opening 55 minutes we were far superior.

�But that�s mostly because our fans had so much expectations on us. We�re sorry for our public, because we feel they deserved a lot more.

�But this (Real) is a team with great talent that, physically, were superior to us.�

Napoli required nothing short of a miracle if they were to reach the last eight for the first time � although a bright opening reflected a growing belief in the football-mad southern city that the Azzurri could cause an upset.

Maurizio Sarri�s men had 11 shots in the opening period, the most Real had seen in a Champions League game since facing 15 against Juventus in 2013.

But neither Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne or Hamsik got shots past Reina in a busy opening period that had most of the 56,695 crowd in full voice.

On Real�s first real foray, Luka Modric outmanoeuvred Kalidou Koulibaly to deliver a back-post cross that Reina collected after a mix-up between Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. � AFP