Real Madrid made it back-to-back wins to start their LaLiga title defence as goals from Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde sealed a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side agreed a deal with Manchester United on Friday for the sale of midfielder Casemiro, but they scarcely missed the Brazilian enforcer in what was a dominant performance against Eduardo Coudet’s men at Balaidos.
Benzema opened his league account for the season from the penalty spot early on, before Iago Aspas levelled with a spot-kick of his own midway through the first half.
Modric gave Madrid the lead again with a wonderful strike shortly before half-time, while Vinicius and Valverde were on target in the second half as Los Blancos, who missed a late penalty through Eden Hazard, wrapped up maximum points with the minimum of fuss.
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Madrid went ahead in the 14th minute through Benzema’s penalty after David Alaba’s shot had crashed into the arm of Renato Tapia, the spot-kick given after a lengthy pitchside review from referee Jesus Gil Manzano.
Celta levelled with a penalty of their own in the 23rd minute, Aspas powerfully striking past Thibaut Courtois from 12 yards after Goncalo Paciencia’s header was blocked by the arm of Eder Militao.
Los Blancos restored their lead three minutes before the interval, however, when Modric jinked his way to the edge of the area and whipped a sumptuous strike into Agustin Marchesin’s top-left corner.
Modric was key to Madrid’s third goal as well, the midfielder threading a fine ball through for Vinicius, who rounded Marchesin and slotted into an empty net in the 56th minute.
Valverde then added a fourth 10 minutes later with a clinical finish from 15 yards following a flowing counter-attacking move, before substitute Hazard saw his spot-kick saved by Marchesin after Benzema had been fouled by Hugo Mallo.
What does it mean? Madrid extend run over sorry Celta
Celta had failed to win any of their previous 16 games against Real Madrid in LaLiga (D2 L14), and it was not hard to see why as a dominant Madrid stretched that run to 17.
Despite the loss of Casemiro, Los Blancos look in rude health for the 2022-23 season. This victory meant they have won their opening two LaLiga games in a season for the first time since 2018-19 under Julen Lopetegui.
Modric certainly did not seem to suffer from Casemiro’s absence. The Croatia international restored Madrid’s lead with a wonderful strike – his 18th from outside the penalty area for the club – before setting up Vinicius’ goal with a typically incisive pass.
Benzema punishes Celta again
Benzema’s early strike from the spot means he has now been involved in an incredible 10 goals in his past four LaLiga games against Celta (eight goals and two assists), including two braces and one hat-trick. They will be glad to see the back of him for a few months at least.
Key Opta Facts
– Madrid have won 14 of their last 16 games away from home against Celta Vigo in LaLiga (D1 L1) – Balaidos is the venue where they have won their most away games in LaLiga in the 21 century (14).
– This is the first time in history Madrid have played their first two games of a season in LaLiga away from home and won both (1-2 vs Almeria and 1-4 vs Celta Vigo).
– This was only the fourth time in LaLiga that Modric has scored and assisted in the same match. However, two of those have been in 2022 (also one goal and one assist against Real Sociedad in March).
– Madrid scored and conceded a penalty goal in the same away LaLiga match for the first time since January 2015, when they scored one and conceded another against Cordoba.
– Madrid’s last three penalty goals in LaLiga have come against Celta Vigo at Balaidos, all three scored by Benzema (also two on April 4). The last time three penalty goals from Los Blancos in the competition were against the same opponents was against Villarreal between September 2009 (one from Kaka) and February 2010 (one from Kaka and another from Xabi Alonso).
Celta are away at Girona on Friday, while Madrid travel to Espanyol two days later – their third consecutive away game to start the season.