Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo: match report
Celta Vigo arrived at the Santiago Bernabéu with only their middle-of-the-table position at stake. European qualification was well out of reach; relegation long dismissed. But the early signs from the Galicians was that they'd at least put up a fight, despite only one win in their last nine games. It didn't last long.
Zinedine Zidane sent out his Real Madrid side with a few clear objectives: get the three points, show me you're serious contenders for my starting eleven in Kiev, and, something that has been distinctly lacking this season, give our fans something to really enjoy. The players delivered.
Bale set the tone, Isco followed
Gareth Bale was first to shine. His opening brace was what set the tone for much of the rest of the game. First, with less than 15 minutes on the clock, the Welshman was put into his stride by the always-busy Luka Modric and from outside the area sweeped home in off the right post. On the half hour, better was to come. Cutting back inside the covering defender on the right, when little seemed on, Bale seemed to count his steps before lashing home a controlled curl. There have been times when too much has been made of Madrid's number 11 scoring a simple brace: tonight he deserves all the plaudits.
Isco joined Bale and Benzema in a Cristiano-less Madrid side and was the player who had released his teammate for the second. With the tide growing ever stronger towards the Celta goal, it was the immensely talented Spaniard who claimed the third, just two minutes after, a wonderful curl from the magician's right foot beyond the diving Sergio.
Direction change, flow the same
Half time changed the direction of play but not the flow to the game. Achraf Hakimi has had his critics after some less than convincing performances in Dani Carvajal's absence, so much so that non right backs have filled in before him. But tonight he looked a confident deputy and one that added a goal to his constant threat down the right. Changes came from Zidane and one of those, the ever-impressive Marco Asensio, fired in a cross from the left which was turned in by the covering defender Sergi Gomez. Toni Kroos added the gloss after good play from Mayoral, another given a late run out.
The narrative on the back of this convincing win is easy: a massive confidence boost ahead of a Champions League final and a warning cry to their opposition. That shouldn't mask the fact that Celta Vigo carried nothing like the potency or control that Liverpool do on an evening where they had very little bite, never mind bark. Zidane still has another Liga game to put his final touches in place. Everything is focused on Kiev.
Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo: minute-by-minute
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90'+1' And that's it. The two sets of players embrace, waves to the fans and another step closer to the Champions League final for Zidane.
90' The game is quickly drifting to a close with both teams accepting the result of a game that was never really in doubt
88' Confidence is high unsurprisingly and some of the Madrid players are playing with a swagger, sometimes losing the ball by trying to be too intricate. Marcelo there with a stunning first time trap just an example of how easy this game can be when the pressure is off.
84' Mallo was very, erm, bad there. A lazy kick out at Marcelo deserves nothing less than a lazy Spanglish name joke.
Mendez left the pitch and Iago Aspas came on to try and get something for the visitors. It's the ex-Liverpool player's return from injury.
83' Post! That was almost the seventh. Modric strikes from inside the Celta area and will be disappointed not to have scored.
81' Gooooaaaaal! Kroos finished that last move
80' A short period of Celta possession ends with them being put under pressure by white shirts, giving the ball away for a throw, Madrid taking it quick to Modric who feeds Mayoral who into rolls it into the path of Kroos...
77' Toni Kross wide on the left looks to pick up the galloping Achraf on the right touchline. The Spanish-born Moroccan almost pulls off superb control but is (rightly) deemed to have done so with his upper arm, despite "it was my shoulder" claims to the contrary.
76' This game, as a contest, is long over. Pride at stake for the side from Vigo as Madrid players push for more glory in front of their home fans.
74' It's five! Sergi Gomez trying to block a low cross knocks the ball into his own net.
71' More changes. Bale will not keep the match ball as he leaves to applause and Lucas Vazquez comes on for the final 20 minutes. Jozabed goes off for Celta, replaced by Radoja
70' Over the top this time from the visitors. Maxi Gomez runs free but the forward bouncing ball favours the onrushing Keylor who controls his clearance.
68' Again Celta get foward and Mallo gets the ball into the danger area. But it proves once again not to be that dangerous.
66' That surge resulted in Bale feigning a shot from the left side of the area and cutting a low cross which Asensio collects, shifts and shoots. It's well blocked and eventually cleared.
65' Finally (in this half anyway) Celta get some controlled play in the Madrid half. They try down the right, then move it across to the left. No openings appear though, and Los Blancos win the ball back and surge forward with intent.
63' Isco and Benzema off for the two youngsters
62' Movement from Zidane: Asensio and Mayoral coming on but first some tidy interplay from Isco and Benzema which results in a shot from the Frenchman
60' Bale almost in again, this time set free right through the middle of the Celta defence by Sergio manages to block on the 50-50 race.
59' Sergio saves well from a Gareth Bale right foot. It's one-way traffic at the moment
56' Karim Benzema gets the ball into the net but offside is called against Isco. The midfielder IS in an offside position but some would argue he wasn't interfering with play. A swung boot says otherwise.
54' Offside called on Isco as Benzema played him into the Celta area. It feels that another goal for the home side isn't far away...
The full back has been getting forward all night and is fed in by the always-generous Benzema, strides into the area and fires home. Not for the first time Sergio didn't get a good block and this time it was costly.
52' Gooooaaaaalll! Achraf adds to an impressive showing with a goal.
50' Celta try and try again to create an opening to shoot at the edge of the area but can't. Good closing.
48' Under some pressure in midfield Madrid work the ball safely back to Keylor. His first time drive forward is almost collected on the stretched toe by Benzema but then breaks to Bale. The Welshman, surrounded by defenders in black, almost plays his French teammate back in with a lovely weighted pass but it's well defended by Sergi Gomez
46' No changes from either team and Benzema almost picks up a gift from Celta keeper Sergio. The stopper comes running out to collect a bouncing through ball and completely misses it. Fortunately his defender sorts it out.
Right, we're back in action. Let's see what we can pick out from the second 45 minutes.
Certainly the bookmakers are clear where this game is going with odds of a fourth Madrid goal significantly more likely that one for Celta.
So, what does Zidane do? Give some of the bench players a run out? Give Bale another 45 to claim a confidence-boosting hat-trick?
The two finishes, as well as neat build up play, has seen Gareth Bale shine when a place in Kiev (and in Madrid next season!) is up for grabs, while Achraf has impressed going forward in support.
For what some people had suggested could be a bit of a damp squib, there was enough about that first half to please. Celta looked interested early on but the goals have numbed them a little.
45' Peeeep!! Pablo Gonzalez blows his whistle and brings this half to an end.
44' Nice from Madrid. A quick counter from midfield which ends in a cross from their Brazilian left back which Sergi Gomez heads clear.
43' To you, to me. The game's getting played in the middle third at the moment with neither side finding any penetration. Celta do manage to fling in a cross but Keylor steps out and gathers.
41' Bale is wanting the ball tonight and comes into the middle of the park to take it off his defence and drift a pass wide to Achraf. Madrid then lose possession and Celta try to build
39' Waaaaaaaaaasssss! Keylooooooooor!!! Almost point blank header from Mallo's cross but Madrid's number one says 'I'm here for a reason!' Corner to Celta which comes to nothing.
The replay of Bale's second really shows how well he timed his steps to the ball and how cleanly he hit it.
36' That was nice from Marcelo. Tackles on the opposite side, knocking the ball off Lobotka and back into Madrid possession. There's enough about this effort from the home side to show Zidane wasn't giving lip service when he said he wanted to give the fans a treat.
34' Nacho looking to get in on the act. Puts his boot through a roll back to him outside the Celta box but skies it.
32' It's three!!! Isco at the edge of the area on the left, stops, and hits a beautiful curling effort just inside the far post. Too easy for Madrid right now.
Long ball down the right inside channel from Modric has the number 11 scampering away. Instead of holding up play he uses the outside of his left foot to stab the ball insde the covering defender, then skips past him and smashes the ball through Sergio. Delicious!
30' Goooooooaaaaaallll!! And what a goal it was. Another for Bale.
27' Foul around 35 yards from goal. Don't think Madrid will go for goal directly from here...oh yes they will. Bale puts his left foot through it and the deflection off the wall almost results in a second goal. Sergio quick to undo his wrong-footing and collect.
25' Madrid stepping this up a bit in terms of possession as they switch the ball from right to left and look for openings. Marcelo gets a nice cross in but it's headed away.
23' Gareth Bale finds himself in a good position again deep on the right. His attempt at a cross is well blocked although it was one of those lazy 'why-make-another-yard-for-myself type efforts.
20' Achraf again gets put in down the right flank. A tidy first touch takes him away from the defender's challenge and Sergio in goal does well to block the low cross for a corner. Nothing comes of the corner.
19' Celta go long as the home side's backline push up towards the halfway point but Maxi Gomez has pushed on a few inches too far. Offside prevents him tearing on towards Keylor.
17' Goooaaa.... No! Celta claim for penalty but as the move continues the ball breaks and it's slotted home. Flag up on the far side for Wass who had strayed forward.
Just as I mention a hole in one defence, the same appears in the other. Modric controls a Navas long clearance on his chest in the middle of the park, mid-turn, and then feeds the Welshman who sprints on and finishes clinically off the post. Very nice.
13' Gooooaaaaalll!!! Gareth Bale
12' A huge gaping hole appears in the Madrid defence and Maxi Gomez is ruled offside fromt the Jonny through ball
10' It was Boye who fired in the loose ball from the right side of the area and Celta have certainly started bright enough for a team pondering beach life.
8' Celta win a corner and almost turn a poor cross into a great chance. Quick reaction from Navas in the home goal prevents the danger from escalating. Cat-like!
6' Chance!! Achraf set into heaps of space down the right. He looks up as he gets close to the goal-line and fires it low towards Benzema but Sergio deflects it to safety, not that he knew much about it, I'd say.
5' Madrid try down the left with Marcelo and Casemiro but the latter Brazilian's forward pass is blocked before reaching Benzema.
3' Freekick to Madrid. Clumsy thump from behind into Kroos. The home side try to string a few passes together but Celta are not giving them time to relax into a rhythm.
2' And the first cross into the danger area is from Celta's Boye but it's easily dealt with by the elegant Frenchman at the heart of Madrid's defence.
1' The visitors geta few touches of the ball in their own half for the opening 30 seconds before getting squeezed back to Sergio in goal for a long clearance.
We're off. Celta kicking from right to left start off proceedings.
Ok, the teams are out on the field and we're all set to get underway. Plenty empty seats it would appear...
Real Madrid's transfer policy of late has seen their squad grow with potential star of the future. Last season those stems in reserve seemed to begin to sprout however doubts have been raised over their full blossom ever being achieved. Two of the young players on the home bench tonight are Mayoral and Llorente and we asked what has happened with them.
It will be interesting to see how the BIB (don't worry, that's not really an acronym that we're going with!) of Bale, Isco and Benzema function tonight. They will each be aware that with Cristiano readying himself for the European final, one of them will miss out in that starting eleven. Impress in front of the home fans tonight and a place could be theirs.
It will be interesting to see how many Madridistas turn up for the final home game of the season - not only to wave the team off but also to wish them well for the Champions League final. Numbers at the Bernabéu haven't been too impressive, with attendences plummeting this season...
Hello and welcome to our live minute-by-minute coverage from the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid. Real Madrid host Celta Vigo in what may at first not appear to have much riding on it but there is still plenty to catch the imagination...
Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo: preview
Tonight's match is one that has little meaning to the league table but there are plenty of other side stories to keep us interested. Madrid have a top four place guaranteed - incredibly we were actually questioning this just a couple of months ago - and Celta sit amidst the mid-table cluster of teams with nothing of substance on the line.
For Zidane this is a chance to try out some new ideas, or strengthen some faltering ones, ahead of the Champions League final where his side will face a team with a very distinctive approach. Liverpool await Los Blancos in Kiev and stopping Jürgen Klopp's record-breaking attack will likely be key to a third consecutive European title. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Dani Carvajal in recovery for the last league game and then final, the French coach can give a run out to young Achraf at full back and Isco, Bale and Benzema can prove they are worthy of starting position in the Uefa showpiece.
Juan Carlos Unzué will be without his top scorer Iago Aspas who will start on the bench after around a month out injured but will expect his side to make a better showing than of late. The team visit the Spanish capital on a horrific run, winning just one of their last nine, and sit safe in the middle of the table. Maxi Gómez will be their main goal threat from the start, but if the home side have the impetus Zidane is looking for then chances may be few and far between.