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Rediff.com  » Sports » Zidane reckons game still open despite Real's first leg advantage

Zidane reckons game still open despite Real's first leg advantage

February 16, 2017 11:56 IST

Spain's tennis star Rafael Nadal (centre), father Sebastian Nadal (left) and sister Maria Isabel Nadal were in the stands as Real Madrid romped to a 3-1 win over SSC Napoli during their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Wednesday

IMAGE: Spain's tennis star Rafael Nadal (centre), father Sebastian Nadal (left) and sister Maria Isabel Nadal were in the stands as Real Madrid romped to a 3-1 win over SSC Napoli during their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Wednesday. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane warned 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 on Wednesday.

Holders 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 midfielder 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 played a great game, I don’t know if it was the best match we’ve played recently, but we made a great start," Zidane told reporters.

"It was a shame about the Napoli goal, but we rectified things, scored ourselves and turned the game on its head I think it was a just result.

"We’ll go there to a difficult ground where we’ll suffer and it’s still an open game. We need to go there and finish it off with our 3-1 advantage.”

Real have now won 29 of their last 34 European home games and are unbeaten in their last 12 at the Bernabeu in the competition.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane

IMAGE: Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was full of praise for Toni Kroos. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

They were caught cold, however, by a fast-attacking Napoli side who are the top scorers in Serie 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.

“Our intensity, focus was very high and this is important for us. Against a good opponent with good players on a good run of form you need to be at it,” Zidane added.

Zidane singled out German Kroos for special praise after he turned the tie in Real's favour by striking a shot past Pepe Reina from Cristiano Ronaldo's right-wing cross early in the second period.

Zidane added: "Kroos likes to arrive late in the box and we spoke about it recently. He has the capacity to run more both defensively and attacking.

"He has brilliant feet and can score from those kind of positions and I'm very pleased for him."

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