Ramos reprises saviour role

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and De­portivo Coruna are all likely to sym­pa­thise with Napoli af­ter the Serie A side be­came the lat­est to be foiled by Ser­gio Ramos on Tues­day.

The in­tim­i­dat­ing Real Madrid cap­tain cel­e­brated his 100th Cham­pi­ons League match with an­other res­cue act to drag Real out of a hole against Napoli and set up what turned out to be a com­fort­able 6-2 ag­gre­gate win.

“We suf­fered, but we got through it to­gether,” Ramos said. “If we knew the for­mula then ev­ery­thing would be very easy.

“Some­times things don’t go as you have worked on them. It’s a game to re­flect on, es­pe­cially in the first pe­riod. De­spite that, I’m happy to go through but we need to re­flect on the er­rors we made.”

Napoli, trail­ing 3-1 from the first leg of the round of 16 tie, were in the mood for an up­set as they dom­i­nated the first half and took the lead through Dries Mertens.

But with Real wob­bling, Ramos popped up to head an equaliser early in the sec­ond half and he pro­duced an­other header six min­utes later which de­flected off Mertens and into the net.

A late Al­varo Mo­rata strike sealed a 3-1 vic­tory for the Span­ish side but Ramos’s hero­ics are a fa­mil­iar story for Real fans who have be­come used to their cap­tain’s timely in­ter­ven­tions.

The most dra­matic came in the 2014 Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal when he headed an equaliser in the third minute of stop­page time against Atletico Madrid and Real went on to win 4-1 in ex­tra-time.

Ramos, who gave Real the lead against the same op­po­nents in last year’s fi­nal, re­peated the trick in De­cem­ber when a tow­er­ing 90th-minute header sal­vaged a 1-1 draw at arch-ri­vals Barcelona.

De­portivo Coruna be­came the next vic­tims when Ramos scored an­other last-gasp goal to give Real a 3-2 come­back win.

Bay­ern Munich have also been on the re­ceiv­ing end, with Ramos scor­ing twice in four min­utes as Real won 4-1 at the usu­ally im­preg­nable Al­lianz Arena in the 2013-14 semi-fi­nal.

In all, the 30-year-old has scored 66 goals in his 12 sea­sons at Real. His only dis­ap­point­ment on Tues­day was when UEFA awarded his sec­ond header as an own goal by Mertens.

“You’re jok­ing,” he said. “They’ve taken away my brace.”

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