Real Madrid vs Napoli score, result, highlights as Nico Paz goal secures top spot in Champions League group

The life of a goalkeeper is constantly on a knife edge: one minute you’re a hero, the next your world is crumbling down around you.

Such was the case for Napoli’s Alex Meret on Wednesday, whose late howler just moments after a pair of stunning saves saw Real Madrid emerge victorious by a 4-2 scoreline at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Nineteen-year-old Nico Paz generated the 84th-minute breakaway goal in front of the home crowd in Madrid, but Meret should have handled it without much trouble. Instead, the ball bobbled over his hands and into the back of the net, setting the Spanish giants on course 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.

As the Italians faded, Meret stood tall to deny efforts from Antonio Rudiger and Bellingham, producing a pair of exquisite reflex saves to keep the scoreline level. Yet he was powerless to stop Paz’s bobbling effort, before Joselu put the cherry on top in injury time.

The victory for Real Madrid mathematically secured top spot in Group C, ensuring they will be amongst the seeded teams for the knockout-stage draw. Napoli are not yet confirmed into the Round of 16, but they remain in good position after Braga and Union Berlin shared the points.

The Sporting News followed the Real Madrid vs. Napoli match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happened.

Real Madrid vs Napoli final score

  Score Goal scorers
Real Madrid 4 Rodrygo (11′),
Bellingham (21′),
Paz (84′),
Joselu (90+4′)
Napoli 2 Simeone (9′),
Anguissa (47′)

Kickoff: 9 p.m. local (3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT)
Location: Santiago Bernabeu (Madrid, Spain)
Referee: Francois Letexier (FRA)

Starting lineups:

Real Madrid (4-4-2 diamond, right to left): 13. Lunin (GK) — 2. Carvajal, 22. Rudiger, 4. Alaba, 23. F. Mendy (Nacho, 87′) — 8. Kroos — 19. Ceballos (Joselu, 57′), 15. F. Valverde — 5. Bellingham — 11. Rodrygo (L. Vazquez, 87′), 21. B. Diaz (Paz, 65′)

Napoli (4-3-3, right to left): 1. Meret (GK) — 22. Di Lorenzo, 13. Rrahmani, 3. Natan, 5. Jesus (Zanoli, 87′) — 99. Anguissa, 68. Lobotka (Raspadori, 87′), 20. Zielinski (Elmas, 65′) — 21. Politano (Cajuste, 78′), 18. Simeone (Osimhen, 46′), 77. Kvaratskhelia.

Real Madrid vs Napoli live updates, highlights, commentary

POSTMATCH: Rodrygo injury “just a cramp”

With Real Madrid amidst a full-blown injury crisis, watching Rodrygo pull up with just minutes to go will have given Carlo Ancelotti headaches despite the victory.

However, the young Brazilian appears to have escaped anything serious, telling reporters after the match: “I’m fine, it was just a muscle cramp.”

Madrid escaped from the match unscathed, but there are still issues worth watching in the coming days. Rodrygo’s recovery will surely be managed, and Jude Bellingham twisted his ankle just before halftime and could be treated with caution in the next week or so.

FULLTIME: Real Madrid 4-2 Napoli

Napoli were up for the challenge of this match through 75 minutes, but they ultimately succumbed to tired legs as Real Madrid’s fitness won out in the end.

Young Nico Paz has a moment to remember, as his winner just six minutes from time secured the victory for Los Blancos, regardless of the goalkeeper’s disappointing effort.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti will be pleased with the victory, which leaves Real Madrid perfect in Champions League play, but he will sweat the fitness of Rodrygo as the injury list continues to grow ever larger by the match.

Real Madrid vs Napoli: Second Half

90+4 min: GOAL! REAL MADRID! Joselu has finally got his goal! He’s been incredibly wasteful since coming on around the hour mark, but as Napoli succumb to tired legs, he’s left all alone at the far post. Jude Bellingham stretches to a pinpoint cross, and Joselu can’t miss from five yards out all by himself. That one’s a wrap!

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90th min: Jens-Lys Cajuste is booked for diving. It’s a very harsh one, as he hadn’t been fouled by Dani Carvajal but also didn’t have many other options but to go over the Madrid defender’s hip. The referee has not been up to standards tonight, it must be said.

Six minutes of added time are shown.

89th min: Joselu’s missed another one! He’s fed in by Jude Bellingham, but produces a very weak shot that’s easily grabbed by Alex Meret.

86th min: Oh no, the Real Madrid injury list is already rough reading, and now Rodrygo pulls up after a long and mazy run. It appears he stepped awkwardly as he was challenged by a Napoli midfielder hoping to stop his charge.

The Brazilian is brought off, with Nacho and Lucas Vazquez entering the match. Ferland Mendy also comes off in the changes. Napoli make a double change as well, with Alessandro Zanoli and Giacomo Raspadori on in favour of Juan Jesus and Stanislav Lobotka.

84th min: GOAL! REAL MADRID! Nico Paz has put Los Blancos in front with just seven minutes to play, on a howler from Alex Meret!

The 19-year-old takes aim from a good 25 yards out, which skips towards the inside of the near post. Alex Meret, who is fresh off a pair of sensational saves, should deal with the effort easily, but somehow it bounces right over his outstretched hands and into the back of the net!

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79th min: Chance, Real Madrid! ALEX MERET MAKES ANOTHER INCREDIBLE SAVE! This time he denies Jude Bellingham who taps a shot on target at pace, sliding to beat his defender to the ball. Meret is at his best again though, as he stretches his body and gets a toe to the shot!

The rebound falls to Joselu, but he misses again with an easy chance, unable to put the ball in the empty net on the rebound!

78th min: Real Madrid are back on top of the momentum now as Joselu blazes a bicycle kick over the crossbar. It comes after Alex Meret got an acrobatic touch to the initial effort which was floated over the top from a tight angle. He’s made a mess of a few good chances since coming on.

Walter Mazzerri makes another change, taking off Matteo Politano and bringing on Jens-Lys Cajuste. That’s a head scratcher, as Politano’s been one of Napoli’s most creative players since halftime.

77th min: Chance, Real Madrid! WHAT A SAVE ALEX MERET TO DENY ANTONIO RUDIGER! That’s a stunning stop from the Napoli man, who denies Rudiger a headed effort off a lovely Jude Bellingham cross. A huge moment in the match!

76th min: The referee has completely lost the plot in the last few minutes. He whistles Joselu for an inexplicable foul despite the fact he was barged over from behind. Then, he swallows his whistle on both ends as both Matteo Politano and Ferland Mendy have an argument for a foul, the latter which happened in the 18-yard box. What game is he watching?

72nd min: Chance, Real Madrid! Jude Bellingham feeds a delicious cross to the front of goal, but nobody’s there to put it home! How has no Madrid forward made the run? Joselu, or anyone else, needs to be there, it’s as dangerous a cross as you can ask!

68th min: Chance, Napoli! Victor Osimhen has the ball in the net, but it’s ruled out for offside! Matteo Politano goes on a brilliant run dancing through the Real Madrid midfield, but Osimhen fails to hold his run, twisted in knots as he tries to remain level with the Real Madrid defenders.

Politano finds his striker and Osimhen beats Andriy Lunin, but it’s quite clearly off on the feed. Disappointing from Osimhen’s standpoint as that run from Politano deserved better.

65th min: Piotr Zielinski is the victim of a crunching tackle from Antonio Rudiger, who clears the ball but also pulverizes the Napoli midfielder. Somehow, miraculously, the German escapes without any punishment from the referee. That’s at least a yellow card challenge, if not more, having thrown his studs into the Polish international’s thigh on the follow through.

Zielinski has to come off as a result, replaced by Eljif Elmas. Nico Paz comes on to take the injured Brahim Diaz’s place as well.

62nd min: Chance, Real Madrid! Joselu should score but instead misses badly! A lovely cross by Ferland Mendy evades Rodrygo and falls to Joselu at the far post, but gets awful contact on it and sees the ball deflect off his thigh and over the crossbar!

It appeared that Joselu switched off as the cross came in, likely believing that Rodrygo would get a touch and not expecting the ball to reach him.

60th min: Napoli continue to cook. Giovanni Di Lorenzo has another chance to send in a cross, and he lofts it to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia at the far post, but he can’t quite control it. David Alaba and Dani Carvajal are livid with their midfield, asking for help marking the numbers up front for Napoli.

Brahim Diaz has a problem with his left leg, and asks for a substitute. His evening may be over shortly as Real Madrid’s injury issues get even worse.

58th min: Chance, Real Madrid! Joselu’s first touch is a header over the crossbar! He meets a corner, beating Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret in the air, but can’t put it on target.

55th min: The Italians are up for this fight now. Giovanni Di Lorenzo floats a cross to the head of Victor Osimhen, but it’s just a fraction too high and the Nigerian can’t quite get high enough to get good contact.

Joselu comes into the match as the first Real Madrid substitute, replacing Dani Ceballos, who hasn’t really been heard from this game. Jude Bellingham doesn’t appear to be moving terribly well, but he stays on for now and will drop deeper in midfield with the change.

52nd min: Napoli nearly hit Real Madrid with a taste of their own medicine! A wonderful counter-attack from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia comes close to bearing fruit, but his cross to a wide-open Victor Osimhen on the doorstep is deftly cut out at the last moment by a sliding Federico Valverde. So close to a great transitional goal!

49th min: Piotr Zielinski is the first player in this match booked by French official Francois Letexier, having stepped on the foot of Toni Kroos late.

47th min: GOAL! NAPOLI! GAME ON! Real Madrid have conceded early in a half again! Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa gets on the ball at the right edge of the six-yard box, and his first thought is to fire a cross to the middle, but it’s blocked. The ball falls right back to his feet, and he unleashes a tight-angle rip and roofs it!

Andriy Lunin should have done better there, he can’t be beat from that spot!

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Kickoff: It appeared for a moment that Joselu would be entering for Real Madrid, but instead it’s Napoli who are the ones to bring on a striker, as Victor Osimhen comes off the bench to replace Giovanni Simeone, who in fairness was bright through the first half. Napoli need just a point to confirm their place in the knockout stages as things stand, with Union Berlin beating Braga 1-0.

HALFTIME: Real Madrid 2-1 Napoli

After falling behind just nine minutes in, Real Madrid took complete control of the match at home, getting a pair of goals from their two healthy young stars Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham.

Napoli tried to will themselves back in the game, but can’t quite make something happen as the Real Madrid defensive unit holds firm. The Italian side has struggled since taking the early lead.

It’ll be worth watching Bellingham out of the break after his ankle injury late in the first half, and whether Carlo Ancelotti decides to protect his star midfielder knowing far more important matches are on the horizon.

Real Madrid vs Napoli: First Half

45+3 min: Chance, Real Madrid! Dani Carvajal feeds Brahim Diaz in front of goal, and he dazzles on the ball to create space around his scrambling defender. He nearly takes advantage of the space, but drives his tight-angle effort way over the crossbar. That’s very well done from Brahim until the final moment, which was disappointing.

45+2 min: Piotr Zielinski nearly benefits from a very fortunate deflection off his driven effort from atop the penalty area, but the ball loops just inches over the crossbar. That wasn’t far from an equalising goal out of nothing.

43rd min: Jude Bellingham is limping around after rolling his left ankle, and it looks a painful one. He goes down to the turf and receives treatment, with Joselu warming up. This would be a really worrying injury for Madrid, who are currently beset by a huge injury crisis.

He carries on for now, with four minutes of added time shown.

39th min: Jude Bellingham nutmegs Stanislav Lobotka and then dances around Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. What a special player. Real Madrid are just showing off now.

35th min: Antonio Rudiger bodies up Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and wins a one-on-one challenge, turning his back to the Georgian star and winning a free-kick. Excellent defending against a very high-quality dribbler.

30th min: Rodrygo dazzles the Bernabeu as he leads a transitional play, dribbling the length of the pitch before laying off to Federico Valverde, but the shot is fired wide, dragged across the face of goal and past the far post.

28th min: Napoli have nothing at the moment, as Real Madrid have been able to completely control this match from a tempo standpoint. Federico Valverde fouls Piotr Zelinski to momentarily relieve the pressure, and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia produces a shot from a beautiful dribble, but it’s blocked.

22nd min: GOAL! REAL MADRID! Who else to put Real Madrid in front but Jude Bellingham, of course! It’s a classic Bellingham goal too, as he makes his trademark run down the heart of the Napoli penalty area, and crashes home a brilliant cross from deep by David Alaba with a pinpoint header at full speed.

Juan Jesus is the man beaten by the ball. Real Madrid have taken full control of this match, ever since Napoli’s early opener.

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15th min: Chance, Real Madrid! Jude Bellingham turns creator as he slides Dani Carvajal through down the right. His driven cross finds Rodrygo but the Brazilian tries something audacious and sails his effort well over the crossbar.

11th min: GOAL! REAL MADRID! WHAT A RESPONSE FROM REAL MADRID! It’s the man in form Rodrygo! Brahim Diaz drives forward on the ball into the attacking third, and he taps it off to Rodrygo who rips a right-footed curler into the top corner!

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9th min: GOAL! NAPOLI! Napoli poke and prod the Real Madrid back line, and there’s multiple defending errors which lead to the opener! After an initial shot is blocked harmlessly, the visitors float the ball to the far post where Giovanni Di Lorenzo beats Jude Bellingham to the ball and touches it across the face of goal.

Giovanni Simeone is there making the late run, unmarked for the tap-in, which Andriy Lunin gets his hand to and pushes the ball away, but goal-line technology indicates the ball was over the line! The Italians lead!

5th min: The teams have traded long spells of possession, but haven’t managed to create much yet. Real Madrid attempted to provide service through the middle but were denied by Amir Rrahmani who stepped up to prevent the feed. Down the other end Khvicha Kvaratshkelia looks for a teammate at the far post but isn’t remotely close on the delivery.

Kickoff: The match is under way from the famed Santiago Bernabeu! French official Francois Letexier is in charge, having officiated European matches with each of today’s clubs in the recent past, and it went well for both sides.

Letexier was on the whistle for Real Madrid back in April when they beat Chelsea 2-0 at home, with Ben Chilwell sent off on the hour mark of that match. He was also in charge of the 6-1 Napoli win over Ajax at home in October of 2022, with the Dutch side also falling a man down.

Real Madrid vs Napoli: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more

15 mins to kickoff: Despite the injury to Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo has turned on the jets in his feature role up front. He’s scored six goals in the last month, including back-to-back braces in La Liga play plus one in each of his last two Champions League appearances. He’s tacked on four assists in that span as well, supplying teammates up front at just as high a rate.

Could he lead Los Blancos to victory again today?

30 mins to kickoff: Jude Bellingham has scored 14 goals with Real Madrid so far, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for most goals in a player’s first 15 matches for the club. It’s earned him some new wallpaper, and not of the cell phone variety.

45 mins to kickoff: The two club presidents for today’s match, Florentino Perez of Real Madrid and Aurelien de Laurentiis of Napoli, met for a meal ahead of the game as a show of sporting friendship. Napoli presented Real Madrid with a miniature model of the Bernabeu.

1 hour to kickoff: The Napoli lineup is in, and it was thought Victor Osimhen would be fit enough to slide straight back into the starting lineup in this big game. Instead, he only makes the bench as Giovanni Simeone continues to deputise in the striker role.

1 hour 15 mins to kick: Carlo Ancelotti has spoken out against the increased fixture congestion in football these days, which is relevant for the Real Madrid boss who has lost a host of players due to injury. The Italian believes the players need a stronger, more unified union to push for change.

1 hour 30 mins to kick: How about this name on the Real Madrid bench today: Theo Zidane! That’s how deep Carlo Ancelotti is having to dig into his squad, as the 21-year-old son of former Madrid star Zinedine Zidane makes the bench.

1 hour 45 mins to kick: Real Madrid have already come out with their lineup, as they are known to do on occasion.

The most interesting tweaks involve the attacking unit, with Joselu sat on the bench in favour of Rodrygo deployed up front, alongside Brahim Diaz who is forced into a starting role. There were reports pre-match that Diaz was ill and would not pass fit, but he does appear in the lineup.

2 hours to kickoff: With Real Madrid having confirmed their place in the Round of 16, this would be a great place to give in-form Jude Bellingham some rest, but Carlo Ancelotti is unable to rotate his squad thanks to the heavy onset of significant injuries.

While Vinicius Jr. is the most notable injury in the Madrid ranks, they are also missing both young midfielders Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, which puts a real strain on the squad. That’s likely going to push Dani Ceballos into the starting lineup, reports AS.

Real Madrid vs Napoli lineups, team news

Carlo Ancelotti is missing the majority of his first-choice starting XI through injury with Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao, Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Arda Guler are all expected to be out until 2024.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was given the midweek match off as Andriy Lunin starts in goal. Jude Bellingham starts in midfield despite talk of finding him rest, while Luka Modric misses out with a hamstring issue. Brahim Diaz was reportedly ill in the buildup to the match, but he starts for just the second time this season.

Real Madrid starting lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Lunin (GK) — Carvajal, Alaba, Rudiger, F. Mendy — Kroos — Ceballos, F. Valverde — Bellingham — Rodrygo, B. Diaz.

Real Madrid subs (10): F. Gonzalez (GK), Canizares (GK), Nacho, F. Garcia, L. Vazquez, M. Martin, Paz, T. Zidane, G. Garcia, Joselu.

It was thought that Napoli would enjoy the return of star striker Victor Osimhen from injury, but Walter Mazzarri is not yet ready to deploy the Nigeria international from the start. Instead, he can only make the bench as Giovanni Simeone continues in the central striker role.

Juan Jesus is chosen to cover for Mario Rui at left-back for Napoli over Mathias OliveraKhvicha Kvaratskhelia and Mateo Politano flank the deputy striker on the wings.

Napoli starting lineup (4-3-3): Meret (GK) — Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Natan, Jesus — Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski — Politano, Simeone, Kvaratskhelia.

Napoli subs (10): Collini (GK), Contini (GK), Ostigard, Zanoli, Cajuste, Gaetano, Elmas, Zerbin, Raspadori, Osimhen.

How to watch Real Madrid vs Napoli

Here’s how to watch this Champions League match across selected areas of the world’s major regions:

  TV channel Streaming
USA TUDN USA, Univision Paramount+, ViX, Univision NOW
UK TNT Sports 3 discovery+
Australia  — Stan Sport
Canada  — DAZN
India  — Sony LIV, JioTV
New Zealand  — beIN Sports Connect
Malaysia beIN Sports 3 beIN Sports Connect, sooka
Singapore beIN Sports 3 beIN Sports Connect, StarHub TV+
Hong Kong beIN Sports 3 beIN Sports Connect

Real Madrid vs Napoli betting odds, lines

  Madrid
win
Draw Napoli
win
Both teams
to score Y / N
Over / Under
2.5 goals
RMA
-0.5
NAP
+0.5
DraftKings
(USA)
-115 +290 +300 -175 / +130 -155 / +115 -115 +100

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