‘Together we are unstoppable’ - Kroos & Casemiro pitch in to take the weight off Ronaldo & Benzema

Casemiro Real Madrid Napoli
Zinedine Zidane's side fell behind to a stunning strike by Lorenzo Insigne but kept calm to conjure an impressive comeback for Los Blancos


It was an impressive collective effort from Real Madrid. The 11-times winners of the Champions League have often been known for their individual talents more than their teamwork in years gone by, but their 3-1 win over Napoli on Wednesday night was very much a team performance.

Madrid come back to beat Napoli at the Bernabeu

Madrid will no doubt have been wary of an exciting Napoli side capable of scoring plenty of goals - especially in light of what happened to Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

It is an oft-repeated cliche, but there are no easy matches at this stage of the Champions League and, with the second leg to come in Italy, Zinedine Zidane will have stressed the importance of a positive result to his players. And, prior to the game, fans held aloft a mosaic with a message that read: "Together, we are unstoppable."

And, ultimately, they were. Nevertheless, Napoli took the lead after Lorenzo Insigne spotted Keylor Navas out of position and beat the Costa Rican goalkeeper with an outrageous curled strike from all of 35 yards.

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Napoli Champions League

There was no need for panic, though. Madrid were playing well and Karim Benzema, under such scrutiny in La Liga, headed home the equaliser following a wonderful pass by Dani Carvajal. The French forward has just five goals in the Primera Division this term, but has netted in each of Madrid's last four Champions League games and that goal saw him surpass compatriot Thierry Henry with his 51st strike in the continental competition.

Benzema surpasses Henry in Champions League goals

Benzema should have scored again before half-time as he fired wide from close range and, moments later, he produced an astonishing back-heeled nutmeg to great applause from the fans. That is Karim - capable of the sublime and the ridiculous.

Cristiano Ronaldo should also have netted in the opening period. The Portuguese is without a goal in the Champions League now in over 500 minutes of action, but he was bright in this game and his superb run left Kalidou Koulibaly floored as he set up Toni Kroos for 2-1 five minutes into the second half as the German netted with a fine finish.

Casemiro, of all people, then blasted in a stunning strike from way out that flew into the corner for Madrid's third. It was also only the Brazilian's third goal for Real in 81 senior appearances - but it was a finish of which any player would have been proud.

Karim Benzema Real Madrid Champions League

Toni Kroos Real Madrid Napoli Champions League

It was also just what Zidane would have wanted from his team. With Gareth Bale back in training but not quite ready to be used in this match, Ronaldo on his longest-ever goal drought in the Champions League and the enigmatic Benzema blowing hot and cold, the French coach will have been happy to see others chipping in.

Barcelona battered by PSG in Paris

In truth, that has been a feature of the current campaign for Los Blancos. With the exception of the seldom-seen Fabio Coentrao, all of Madrid's 20 outfield players have scored this term - and that has taken the pressure off the forward players.

It is perhaps a reason why Real are succeeding in La Liga and the Champions League more than their fierce rivals Barcelona, so reliant upon Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar for goals and completely lost as those three barely saw the ball at the Parc des Princes against an impressive PSG on Tuesday.

So, Madrid march on and, while this tie is not over yet, the comeback means Zidane's side will be big favourites to avoid a shock and make it into the last eight. It is much more of a team effort at the Bernabeu these days and that will stand Los Blancos in good stead for another assault on the competition they love to think of as their own.

And, together, they may really be unstoppable on the road to Cardiff.