Jude Bellingham’s dream start to life at Real Madrid continued as his mesmerising solo goal helped the Spanish giants down Napoli to make it two wins from two in this season’s Champions League.
Having grabbed a last-gasp winner to see off Union Berlin a fortnight ago, Bellingham first teed up Vinicius Junior to score after Leo Ostigard had put Napoli ahead at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Bellingham’s fabulous driving run and strike put Real ahead and, although they were pegged back by Piotr Zielinski’s penalty, Federico Valverde’s venomous strike rebounded off Alex Meret as Napoli lost 3-2.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 3, 2023
Bellingham’s stunning goal – his eighth in nine matches since moving to the Spanish capital in the summer – threatened to be overshadowed by a contentious penalty awarded to the hosts.
Nacho Fernandez was penalised as the ball inadvertently cannoned off his legs into his arm after he had slid to cut out a cross from Victor Osimhen. While a corner was awarded on-field, referee Emil Bozinovski reversed his decision and gave a spot-kick after being summoned to the VAR monitor.
But Meret’s own goal saw Carlo Ancelotti enjoy a winning return to the side he managed from May 2018 to December 2019 as Real moved on to six points to go top of Group C.
Bellingham was immediately into the thick of proceedings as a long ball allowed Rodrygo to stretch his legs, although the Brazilian was unsettled enough by Stanislav Lobotka to shoot straight at Meret.
Bellingham and Aurelien Tchouameni blazed over, but Napoli opened the scoring in the 19th minute, thanks in part to Real goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missing a punch to clear Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s corner.
Although Bernardo Natan’s looping header thudded back off the bar, Ostigard was able to leap over Real defender Dani Carvajal to nod the rebound into an empty net.
The lead lasted eight minutes as Bellingham stretched to intercept Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s clumsy pass deep in Napoli’s half before teeing up Vinicius, who calmly slotted across Meret from an acute angle.
Real then went ahead for the first time in the 34th minute thanks to some magic from Bellingham, who collected on halfway, drove forward into the area and bulldozed his way round Ostigard before tucking a right-footed effort into the corner past Meret for his second Champions League goal in two matches.
Kepa atoned for his earlier error by getting a strong hand to keep out a header from Osimhen, who came out on top in an aerial battle with Antonio Rudiger, to keep Real ahead at half-time.
However, Napoli got the benefit of a questionable VAR decision after Osimhen’s attempted cross was cut out in the area by Nacho, whose sliding challenge ricocheted off his arm and out of play.
Full time#NapoliRealMadrid 2-3
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) October 3, 2023
Bozinovski seemed bemused after being told to wait, but when he was called to the monitor the referee duly awarded a penalty, converted via a post by Zielinski, who scored his 50th Napoli goal.
That moment of fortune lifted Napoli as Kvaratskhelia shot wide before Zielinski saw his stinging drive from distance palmed away by Kepa, with Real forced to soak up some intense pressure on the hour.
Shortly after Ancelotti sent on Luka Modric, Real went close to retaking the lead as Carvajal’s snap shot was parried into the path of Bellingham, who headed the rebound wide, to his dismay.
But Real went ahead with 12 minutes left as Modric’s corner was only cleared to Valverde, who brought the ball down and unleashed a thunderbolt that crashed off the crossbar then thumped off the back of an unsuspecting Meret, who had been beaten for pace by the shot, before nestling in the net.
Ostigard forced Kepa into a save late on as Real rode a few nervy moments to pick up an important win.