Real Madrid 4-2 Napoli, Nico Paz’s goal secures the group’s top position in the Champions League for Madrid
A goalkeeper’s life is always on a razor edge: one minute you’re a hero, the next your world is collapsing around you.
Such was the case for Napoli’s Alex Meret on Wednesday, whose late howler came only seconds after a pair of brilliant saves helped Real Madrid win 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Nico Paz, 19, scored a breakaway goal in front of his home fans in Madrid in the 84th minute, but Meret should have handled it easily. Instead, the ball bounced off his hands and into the net, putting the Spanish giants on track for all three points.
Paz’s contribution added to that of Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham, who stayed white-hot amidst an injury crisis at Madrid. Napoli scored early in both halves through Giovanni Simeone and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and they threatened to take the lead at times through the second half but were done in by Madrid’s youth and quality.
Meret remained steady as the Italians faded, denying attempts from Antonio Rudiger and Bellingham with a couple of stunning reaction stops to keep the score equal. He was unable to stop Paz’s bobbling attempt, and Joselu added the icing on the cake in injury time.
Real Madrid’s victory mathematically secured top position in Group C, ensuring that they will be among the seeded clubs for the knockout round draw. Napoli have not yet been confirmed for the Round of 16, but they are in a strong position after Braga and Union Berlin split the points.
Through 75 minutes, Napoli was up for the task of this encounter, but they eventually succumbed to fatigued legs as Real Madrid’s fitness won out.
Young Nico Paz had a memorable moment, as his winner six minutes from time won the victory for Los Blancos, despite the goalkeeper’s terrible performance.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti will be thrilled with the win, which keeps Real Madrid unbeaten in the Champions League, but he will be concerned about Rodrygo’s health as the injury list grows with the match.