Real Madrid 5-1 Celtic (Luka Modrić, Rodrygo Goes, Marco Asensio, Vinícius Júnior & Fede Valverde). Here is the immediate reaction to the home win. Still to come: press conferences, player ratings and a ManagingMadrid podcast.
Real Madrid needed a win to finish as leaders of their 2022/23 Champions League group. Bottom placed side Celtic would be visiting the Santiago Bernabéu, but the reigning Scottish champions would be no walkover. Eden Hazard (injury) and Aurélien Tchouaméni (rested) would miss the squad - but the line-up would remain strong. Fede Valverde slotted into the midfield allowing Marco Asensio to start out-wide. David Alaba and Éder Militão started as a centre-back pairing. Luka Modrić captained the team today as Karim Benzema was benched.
After defeat to Leipzig last time out may have seeded some doubts in the heads of Real Madrid fans about a first place finish. These doubts were put to bed early when a penalty went Real Madrid’s way due to a hand ball from a Celtic defender. Captain Luka Modrić stepped up to bury it home and make it 1-0. A few half changes then fell to both sides, with some questionable finishing on show from the usually clinical Fede Valverde. Joe Hart stopped a dangerous Vinícius Júnior effort, before Madrid gained another penalty because of yet another handball inside the area. This time Rodrygo Goes was allowed to take it, and he made no mistake to make it 2-0 to Los Blancos. Vinícius came close to a third moments later, but shot just over. Kyogo Furuhashi looked to be Celtic’s man up top but could only meet Thibaut Courtois with his efforts. Marco Asensio came close from distance, but it was then Celtic who would get a penalty due to a trip from Ferland Mendy. The penalty was light work for Courtois, though - who denied the striker with a great save. The referee deemed that enough action for the first half, and Madrid went in at the break comfortably ahead.
The first goal of the second half came within minutes - similar to the first half. Marco Asensio unleashed a great first time effort to all but confirm the win. Valverde looked to get in on the action but his shot was blocked on the line to keep it three. They wouldn’t be able to keep it three for long however, as Vinícius Júnior capitalised on some poor keeping to tap in for four. Only at 4-0 did Real Madrid opt to bring on Karim Benzema, much to the dismay of the Scots. Valverde did manage to make his mark when he scored a first time rocket that gave Joe Hart no chance. Benzema should have made it six but he couldn’t convert a rebounded opportunity. Celtic did manage to grab a consolation when Jota put a free-kick behind Courtois’ reach, but it was far too late to launch any kind of comeback. Courtois then got his own back as he denied Jota a second around the 90 minute mark. Benzema could have extended Madrid’s lead further but his headed effort was blocked away from the line right at the end of the game. 5-1 the final score. Thoughts on the game?