NewsCO.com.au – Holders Real beat Napoli, Bayern thrash Arsenal

February 17, 2017


Holders Real Madrid came from behind to beat Napoli 3-1 in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday while Bayern Munich once again thrashed Arsenal 5-1 in their latest duel. Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro reversed an early deficit from Lorento Insigne’s early strike for the Italians at the Bernabeu Stadium, with former Napoli and Argentine great Diego Maradona and Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal in attendance.

Bayern meanwhile broke a 1-1 tie within 10 minutes in the second half with Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara’s double as they overcame a temporary equalizer from Alexis Sanchez after Arjen Robben had opened the scoring for the Bundesliga champions with a trademark goal. Substitute Thomas Mueller wrapped up matters as Bayern duplicated their 5-1 win from last season’s group stage against the Gunners who are now all but assured of elimination against Bayern a fourth time at this stage, as in 2005, 2013 and 2014. “The first half was very tough. We had to find a result in the second half and came out with the attitude to score. We played awesome,”

Marek Hamsik found Dries Mertens just inside the Real half, the Belgian saw that goalkeeper Keilor Navas was far off his line and curled into the bottom right corner from some 35 meters out. After wasting two earlier chances Benzema finally caught some luck in the 19th minute for the equalizer by nodding home Daniel Carvajal’s accurate cross from the right. Benzema was denied a second by the right post shortly before intermission but Kroos put Real ahead with a low shot in the 49th minute from 14 meters after Cristiano Ronaldo had laid back the ball to the German.

Casemiro’s brilliant volley from some 22 meters five minutes later settled the affair, and Real missed further chances as Ronaldo’s scoring drought is now more than 500 minutes while Napoli lost for the first time since October. In Munich, Bayern snatched an 11th minute lead from a vintage Robben goal, cutting inside from the right and curling into the top left corner in off the crossbar. But the Gunners were level after half an hour when Lewandowski hit Laurent Koscielny when attempting to clear. Manuel Neuer saved the ensuing penalty from Sanchez, the striker also miscued on the rebound but hit home on his third attempt between two defenders. But, with Koscielny not returning for the second half, Arsenal fell apart with a 10-minute spell against a rampant home side which shook off some poor recent Bundesliga showings and was there when it mattered.Lewandowski rose over Shkodran Mustafi to head in Philipp Lahm’s cross in the 53rd minute, set up Thiago with a deft back-heeler three minutes later, and Thiago got his second for 4-1 in the 63rd minute with a deflected shot.

Mueller then came on late to score a rare season goal in the 88th minute for the final score which all but condemns Arsenal to a seventh straight last 16 exit even though Munich will have captain Philipp Lahm suspended in the return leg.

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