Real Madrid's Casemiro after Napoli win: 'There is a long way to go yet'
Real Madrid goalscorer Casemiro said his team had put in a good performance in Los Blancos' 3-1 victory over Napoli in Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg, but the job was not done yet.
An upset seemed possible after just eight minutes when Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne shocked the home fans and goalkeeper Keylor Navas with a superb 35-yard strike, but Karim Benzema soon equalised for the holders with a powerful header.
Two fine long-range strikes from midfielders Toni Kroos and Casemiro within five minutes of each other in the second half put Madrid in control of the tie and Zinedine Zidane's men look big favourites to progress ahead of the second leg in Napoli on Tuesday, March 7.
Casemiro told BeIn Sports after the game that Madrid had put in a complete performance but were aware that it could be "dangerous" in the return at the San Paolo stadium.
"We came out very strong and finished the game well," Casemiro said. "Our fans helped us a lot today. We knew this was going to be a hard game. We must be serious and relaxed. The most difficult step is still to be taken. There is a long way to go yet. We know they are a difficult team to face, and they showed here tonight that they can play good football."
After he struck a dropping ball superbly to flash a swerving, dipping volley past Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina for probably the most spectacular of his career, the holding midfielder stated that practice in training had paid off.
"It is something I have been practicing for a long time," he said. "We work on it every day at training. I usually shoot from outside the area as I am coming from deeper."
Casemiro also had words of support for Benzema, who was whistled after a couple of early misses, but then scored his 51st goal in 89 Champions League games -- moving him ahead of his compatriot Thierry Henry to become their country's top all-time scorer in the competition.
"Karim played a spectacular game, as did all the team," the Brazil international said. "We played at a very high level."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan