Record 14-time winners Real Madrid extended their perfect start to the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League season with a win over Italian champions Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday night (November 29). Playing without many of their top players, Los Blancos dug deep and came out with an impressive 4-2 victory over the Partenopei on Matchday 5, with Jude Bellingham once again taking home the Player of the Match Award.
Real Madrid Youngsters Shine In Morale-Boosting Victory In The Champions League
Real Madrid were without Vinicius Junior, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Luka Modric, Eder Militao, and Thibaut Courtois on Wednesday night, with the last two being long-term absentees. In the absence of multiple first-team players, Carlo Ancelotti fielded a front two of Brahim Diaz and Rodrygo and deployed Dani Ceballos in midfield alongside Jude Bellingham, Federico Valverde, and Toni Kroos. The team took a while to settle down, with Napoli drawing first blood through Giovanni Simeone in the ninth minute.
However, Los Merengues’ response came swiftly, courtesy of an excellent bit of play from Brahim Diaz and a thunderous right-footed finish from Rodrygo. After seeing the pair thump home the equalizer, Bellingham joined the party, putting Real Madrid’s noses in front in the 22nd minute. David Alaba floated a superb long ball from deep, which Bellingham tracked and steered past Alex Meret with a flawless header.
Real Madrid preserved the lead for the remainder of the first half but succumbed to the pressure just a couple of minutes into the second 45. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa scored Napoli’s equalizer with a powerful right-footed half-volley. In the 58th and 62nd minutes, substitute Joselu got two excellent opportunities to put Madrid back in front, but the Spaniard’s sub-par finishing allowed the visitors to escape, scot-free.
Ancelotti’s men got the goal they desired in the 84th minute, with 19-year-old Nicolas Paz scoring from outside the box. It marked the youngster’s first senior goal for the Merengues. Having endured a torrid night until then, Joselu finally sent the ball into the back of the net in the fourth minute of added time. Bellingham masterfully found the Spanish striker with an outside-the-boot pass, allowing him to smash the ball into an unguarded net.
Jude Bellingham Was The Man Of The Match Against Napoli
Bellingham has proven to be an outstanding signing for Real Madrid, with the Englishman scoring at will in almost every game. With the goal against Napoli on Wednesday, he became the first Real Madrid player to score in each of his four Champions League appearances for the club. In addition to the faultless header, the 20-year-old superbly set up Joselu’s goal and covered every blade of grass on Wednesday’s Bernabeu pitch.
Over the course of the 90 minutes, Bellingham attained a passing accuracy of 93 (63/68 passes completed), created a whopping four chances, completed three of five dribbles, delivered five accurate long balls, and drew two fouls. He also made four recoveries and won seven duels. Following such a complete display, UEFA could not help but give the Kopa Trophy winner yet another Man of the Match Award.