Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane warned on Wednesday that it was still all to play for in their Champions League last-16 clash against Napoli after the holders strolled to a 3-1 win in the first leg in Madrid.
Madrid fell behind to an early goal at the Bernabeu but then outclassed their opponents with efforts from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and a stunning volley from Brazilian mid-fielder Casemiro.
Yet Zidane believes Real, eyeing a seventh straight quarter-final appearance, can take nothing for granted when they travel to Naples for the second leg on March 7.
“We have seen that Napoli is a great squad that has put us in troubles. It’s a team that can hurt you at anytime but we also have our things to hurt them too,” Zidane said at a news conference after the match.
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri says they are angry for the result because they could have done more.
“It’s the first match we lose in four months. We are a bit angry about it because we didn’t actually express ourselves and play a 100 per cent, but that won’t affect our moral. There are some league matches to play and the second leg, we have many opportunities to qualify. We have to go for everything.
We are angry not just because of the result but because we had the feeling we could have done something else,”
Real Madrid have now won 29 of their last 34 European home games, and are unbeaten in their last 12 at the Bernabeu in the competition.
They were caught cold, however, by a fast-attacking Napoli side who are the top scorers in Series A, when Lorenzo Insigne spotted Madrid keeper Keylor Navas out of position to curl home a beautiful finish after eight minutes.
From that moment on, however, Real were seemingly able to create chances at will, with Benzema heading them level before the break and Kroos and Casemiro scoring in the space of five second-half minutes.
The Brazilian midfielder thundered a spectacular right-foot shot into the net early in the second half to complete Real’s comeback. “When the ball came I wanted to kick it as hard as possible. I was really looking forward to score and thank God it went perfectly,”.
Meanwhile media speculation has linked Real forward, James Rodriguez, with a move out of the club but the Colombian player has denied it.