Celta Vigo 2-4 Real Madrid: Karim Benzema strikes twice to help injury-hit visitors overcome 10-man hosts
- Real Madrid took the lead thanks to Karim Benzema midway through first half but lost three players to injury
- The Frenchman doubled his tally early in the second half as the club’s good form continues
- Hugo Mallo and Brais Mendez get consolations but Gustavo Cabral is sent off as Celta suffer first defeat in four
- Sergio Ramos and Dani Ceballos sealed victory as visitors maintain 100 per cent record under Santiago Solari
Santiago Solari won the fourth game of his probation period and will now be given the Real Madrid job permanently after watching his bruised and battered team beat Celta Vigo 4-2.
Solari’s aggregate balance is 15-2 in those four games and while the three previous matches were comfortable wins no one can say this one was not hard-fought and hugely deserved.
Madrid lost two players injured in the first half but with Karim Benema inspired and displaying a team spirit not previously seen this season they won the game to close the gap on leaders Barcelona.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema opened the scoring for the visitors after just 23 minutes to set them on their way
Gustavo Cabral looks dejected after helping Benzema’s shot into his own net to double Real’s lead
CELTA VIGO: Alvarez, Junca, Cabrai, Roncaglia, Mallo, Boufal (Hjulsager 63), Yokuslu, Beltran (Mor 63), Mendez, Gomez, Aspas
Subs not used: Blanco, Araujo, Vazquez, Sanchez, Alonso
Sent off: Cabral 87
Goals: Mallo 63, Mendez 90+4
REAL MADRID: Courtois, Reguilon (Javi Sanchez 45), Ramos, Nacho (Asensio 71), Odriozola, Kroos, Casemiro (Ceballos 19), Modric, Vazquez, Benzema, Bale
Subs not used: Navas, Vinicius Junior, Valverde, Isco
Goals: Benzema 23, 56, Ramos 83, Ceballos 90+1
No one has done more to ensure Solari keeps his job than Benzema, scoring four goals in the caretaker coach’s four matches in charge and he got the first goal.
If was buried by Benzema but made in Modric. It’s been a tough start to the season for Luka Modric. At times he has worn his World Cup hangover like a pair of concrete boots but gradually he is finding his rhythm and he played a perfect ball over the top of the Celta defence into Benzema’s path.
There was still lot for the Frenchman to do; he did it with style, spinning on the spot and with a brilliant first touch scooping the ball away from defender Facundo Roncaglia before shooting past Sergio Alvarez.
Real Madrid had been on top from the start. Alvaro Odriozola’s cross gave Benzema his first chance but his shot was saved by Alvarez. The Frenchman then sent a shot wide.
Celta Vigo were physical throughout the first half and when Maxi Gomez crunched into a tackle on Casemiro it left the Brazilian writhing in agony.
His ankle had been badly twisted by the challenge. He hobbled off, still grimacing and then trotted back on. But within five minutes it was clear he could not carry on and his number was up with Dani Ceballos coming on.
Benzema has been in fine form since Santiago Solari took charge of Real Madrid’s fist team
Young defender Sergio Reguilon was one of three Real Madrid players who suffered game-ending injuries during the match
Hugo Mallo pulls a goal back just minutes later with a fine first-time strike across Thibaut Courtois
Interim boss Santiago Solari is likely to be installed permanently after winning four games from four while in harge
Gareth Bale then headed over from Lucas Vazquez’ cross. Toni Kroos curled a shot just over and, at the other end, Okay Yokuslu headed on to the post before Ramos hooked the ball clear.
If that was a warning to Real Madrid they heeded it taking the lead with their next attack from Benzema’s gem.
He was leading the charge but couldn’t quite convert Sergio Reguilon’s cross. He then turned provider but when his cross ran to Kroos, the German fired the ball high over the bar. Benzema was then kicked in the knee by Gustavo Cabral who was booked. Hugo Mallo then kicked Bale in the ankle and also went into the book.
Celta Vigo continued to rough-up Real and David Junca’s flailing hand caught Odriozola in the face. He also went into the book.
Madrid were on top although they needed Thibaut Courtois to save well from Brais Mendez to keep the score that way. When they went down the tunnel 1-0 up at half time they did so with certain concerns. Solari had already had to replace crocked Casemiro and the hamstrung Sergio Reguilon. Bale hobbled off after being clattered by that Mallo foul. He returned for the second half but how long would he last? As it turned out he would have to play the 90 minutes.
Alvaro Odriozola is chopped down in the box and captain Sergio Ramos steps up to chip home the penalty in cool fashion
Youngster Dani Ceballos wheels away after smashing home a stunning fourth for the reigning Champions League winners
Benzema started where he had left off hitting the cross bar with a curling shot and then scoring the second. This time he owed the assist to Odriozola who unsettled the Celta defence leaving Benzema honing in on goal.
He wriggled into space and when Alvarez got a hand to his shot it bounced up at the post and came out hitting Cabral’s arm before crossing the line. The defender might be given the own-goal, Benzema deserves it.
Celta were not out of it yet and from Mendez’ cross Mallo got the wrong side of Ramos to volley beyond Courtois.
They were buoyed by the sight of Madrid players struggling with injuries. Bale was still not running freely and now Nacho had gone down holding his knee.
Courtois then dived full length to deny Iago Aspas. The Belgian keeper is starting to look more like his old self having been the gloves for league and Champions League matches by Solari.
With Javier Sanchez flying into challenges in front of him Madrid were hanging on for the three points and they had no more substitutes to make after Nacho hobbled off for Sergio Asensio.
But they breathed a big sigh of relief nine minutes from time when David Junca clumsily high-kicked Odriozola and Ramos nonchanlently clipped the penalty Panenka-style past Alvarez. There was even a broken run-up to precede the kick. It was his fifth penalty of the season.
Cabral then kicked Sanchez to earn his second yellow and Celta were reduced to 10 men. Madrid were home and dry. Dani Ceballos cracked in their third before Mendez added Celta’s second.
Solari has his fourth win in four games. When the international break is over he will have a first team coach contract and sixth-placed Madrid will be just four points behind leaders Barcelona in what is a very crowded top of the table.
After a shaky start to the season, the Spanish giants are now on 20 points in La Liga, three behind leaders Barcelona
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