Rodrygo and Bellingham score as Real Madrid beats Napoli 4-2 to win its Champions League group

MADRID (AP) — Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham scored a goal each as already qualified Real Madrid beat second-place Napoli 4-2 to win its Champions League group on Wednesday.

Joselu and teenager Nico Paz also found the net to give the record 14-time European champion its fifth straight win in Group C. The result frustrated Napoli’s bid to reach the knockout stage before the final round of matches.

“It was a difficult match,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “But we got the victory and reached our goal of finishing first in the group.”

Bellingham has scored 15 goals in his first 16 matches with Madrid, including four goals in his four Champions League games with the Spanish club.

“Bellingham has surprised everyone. No one could have expected this,” Ancelotti said.

Napoli is eight points behind Madrid and three points in front of Braga, which drew 1-1 at home against last-place Union Berlin in the other group match. Napoli will host Braga in the final round to try to secure its spot in the last 16.

The visitors opened the scoring nine minutes into the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium with a close-range strike by Giovanni Simeone, son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone.

Madrid answered two minutes later with Rodrygo finding the top corner for his sixth goal in the last four matches with the Spanish club, and Bellingham scored his fifth goal in the last five matches for Madrid with a header in the 22nd.

Zambo Anguissa equalized with a powerful shot from a tight angle in the 47th before 19-year-old Paz found the net for his first Champions League goal with a right-footed shot from outside the area in the 84th.

At 19 years, 82 days, Paz became the third youngest player to score for Madrid in the Champions League, after Rodrygo (18 years, 301 days) and Raúl González (18 years, 113 days).

“Just before conceding the third goal, we created chances to score a third ourselves,” Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said. “We knew Madrid is good on the counter, we should have been more careful when we were level. We played really well until we went 3-2 down.”

Joselu sealed the victory four minutes into stoppage time off a pass by Bellingham. Joselu apologized to the fans at the Bernabeu while celebrating after having missed a few good chances earlier in the match.

“It’s about pushing your teammate, your friend, the soldier next to you over the line,” Bellingham said about Joselu. “We know what he can do when the ball’s delivered in the right area. Tonight he put a few wide but that’s the life of a striker. It was important for me to look for him more than anything. Especially in that area of the pitch, I’m happy for him.”

Rodrygo was replaced in the final minutes bothered by cramps. Bellingham appeared to injure his ankle late in the first half but continued in the match.


AP soccer:

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