Madrid had not progressed from behind in a cup-tie in 10 years. Tonight it was game number lucky-13 in that sequence and the curse seems to have been dispelled on a night when Madrid scored their fifth goal in two games when down to 10 men. Casillas show-cased why he is the best goal-keeper in the world and Cristiano Ronaldo hit a beautiful hat-trick.
If Madrid had a settled formation at any point in the game, it certainly wasn't obvious. At one point, 3 centre-backs were on the pitch. A midfielder - Michael Essien - was in defence, then back in midfield, and then back in defence with Sergio Ramos's sending off.
In the first half Mourinho did not play a conventional right-winger, opting instead for Modric and Ozil in the same line-up. It was difficult, initially, to tell who was supposed to be playing centrally, with the players changing positions. But in spite of what would seem, on paper, a narrow formation, Madrid certainly didn't lack for wing-play. Ronaldo switched sides a few times, Modric and Özil alternated the centre and the right and Essien, probably following directions from the coaching staff, played further up than we have usually seen him and right on the chalk, allowing Madrid's forwards to spread the play.
Pepe, who is injured, was replaced by Ricardo Carvalho.
This line-up should have made for a crowded centre, but the players adapted well. On the right, Arbeloa also played further forward than usual and was little troubled as nearly every Celta attack came down the opposite wing.
After half-time, Alonso was taken off with what we hope was only a slight knock.
For their part, Celta Vigo played a direct game - which was not entirely ineffective. Casillas was forced to make 3 world-class saves, 2 of them in the span of one minute in the general panic and confusion after the sending off.
Two Goals In Two Halves
Madrid's goals came at the very beginning and very end of the game. Ronaldo scored twice before the first 25 minutes was up, putting Madrid ahead on aggregate. The final two goals came in the final 10 minutes.
A good goal was disallowed in the first half and Madrid was markedly more in control of the game before Sergio Ramos's sending off midway through the second half.
It was a night for beautiful goals from Cristiano Ronaldo - and he could have had 4 of them (it was his goal that was disallowed). The first was a swerving strike from the left - the winger's technique meant that the ball swerved noticeably - first to the right and then left. The second came off a delightful chipped assist from Modric. The third was a low shot from the left off a break.
CR7 put the icing on the cake by assisting the fourth goal: exchanging passes with Sami Khedira before the latter scored.
The scoreline flatters Madrid - but only just. It was a night for great individualism from two of the team's talismans - CR7 for goals, Casillas for the saves - but it was a well-worked performance. Madrid were not content, shall we say, to sit on a slight lead. But it is worth remembering that the game had its nervy moments.
A Note On The Officiating
Madrid had a good goal disallowed - for a completely non-existent and not even very close offside call. Ronaldo and Higuain both had excellent penalty shouts, one in each half. Yellow cards seem to have been awarded rather haphazardly by a somewhat overwhelmed official.
On the other hand, Ramos's second yellow was more than deserved and the sending off is unfortunate.
Madrid will face Valencia in the next round.
Who Was Man of The Match?
Cristiano Ronaldo (117 votes)
Iker Casillas (14 votes)
Other (Really?) (3 votes)
134 total votes