NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - 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 the title-holders 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 told reporters. ”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.”
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Ed Osmond