Life as a goalkeeper is constantly on a knife’s edge: one minute you’re a hero, the next your world is crashing down around you.
Such was the case with Napoli’s Alex Meret on Wednesday, whose late howler just moments after a pair of stunning saves saw Real Madrid triumph 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A breakaway goal in the 84th minute was generated by 19-year-old Nico Paz in front of the home crowd in Madrid, but Meret should have dealt with it without too much trouble. The ball instead swung through his hands and into the back of the net, guiding the Spanish giants to all three points.
Paz’s contribution added to that of Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham, who have remained red-hot amid Madrid’s injury crisis. Napoli scored early in either half through Giovanni Simeone and Andre-Franco Zambo Anguissa and threatened to take the lead at times in the second half but Madrid’s youth and quality saw them through.
As the Italians dwindled, Meret stood tall to deny Antonio Rudiger and Bellingham’s efforts and produced a couple of excellent reflex saves to keep the scores level. Still, he was unable to stop Paz’s dribbling before Joselu put the cherry on top in injury time.
Real Madrid’s victory mathematically secured top spot in Group C and ensured they would be among the seeded teams for the knockout stage draw. Napoli are yet to be confirmed for the round of 16, but remain in a good position after Braga and Union Berlin shared the points.