Real Madrid: Player-by-player verdicts as Celta Vigo beaten
AS gives its verdict on each Real Madrid player's performance in Saturday's opening-weekend LaLiga win over Celta Vigo.
Barring the goal disallowed by VAR, he didn't have to deal with a single Celta Vigo shot in the first half. In the second, he then made two crucial saves with his side still only leading 1-0: in the 48th minute, he was quickly out of his goalmouth to block a one-on-one shooting chance for Iago Aspas, then demonstrated his swift reflexes by turning a point-blank Néstor Araujo header over the bar.
It was his double error that led to Celta having the ball in the back of the net on the stroke of half time. Having failed to clear at the first attempt, he then dallied too long when the ball came back to him. He was unable to offer penetration going forward, failing to attack the spaces left to him by a Gareth Bale who tended to drift from his starting position. Celta looked most likely to score when they went at Odriozola's flank. The suspended Dani Carvajal was much missed.
Varane's erratic pre-season form continues. Although it was his timely intervention that diverted Aspas' cross out for a corner when it seemed certain to leave Toro Hernández with a tap-in to draw the hosts level, the Celta captain later caught the Frenchman napping to get in behind him for his golden opportunity to equalise.
A strong aerial presence at the back, in attack Ramos tested Rubén Blanco with a shot that did not cause the Celta goalkeeper any undue worries. The Madrid skipper took an arm in the face from Fernández that saw referee Xavier Estrada Fernández book the Uruguayan.
The Brazilian participated in all three goals. His pass found Bale's run before the Welshman crossed for the opener; he laid the ball off to Toni Kroos to thunder in the second from distance; and he was twice involved in the fine move that culminated in Lucas Vázquez firing in number three. He picked up a knock in the passage of play that brought about Celta's consolation.
Called Blanco into action with a neat curling shot from the edge of the area in the first half, before being sent off in the 56th minute - after a VAR review - for a perceived stamp on Denis Suárez. It is the first time in his career that the Croat has been shown a straight red card.
Two of Real Madrid's goals came about after he had won the ball back. First, he robbed Fernández in the lead-up to the visitors' first, with Celta's players incensed that Estrada Fernández did not award a free-kick for the Brazilian's challenge. Later, he recovered possession to start the move that saw Vázquez make it 3-0. Casemiro also showed his powerful shooting ability, forcing Blanco into a save from range.
Kroos was involved in the first two goals, helping to launch the counter-attack for the first after Casemiro had won the ball, and scoring the second himself with a thunderous drive that found the net via the underside of the crossbar and gave Blanco no chance at all.
From having one foot out of the door to setting up Madrid's first goal of the league season. Picked on the right of the attack, he routinely drifted into positions in the centre and on the left, providing the pass for the opener during one of his forays to the opposite flank. He almost got on the scoresheet after making a fine off-the-ball run shortly before the break, and also worked hard defensively in what was a truly redemptive performance. He was replaced by Isco in the 75th minute.
Benzema not only opened Madrid's account with a real poacher's finish, but also offered the all-round link-up play of a second striker. He could have had a second on the hour mark but was denied by a smart stop from Blanco, before deftly laid on the third goal for Vázquez. He was brought off for Luka Jovic moments later.
The forward went unnoticed for large periods of the game, but was almost the one to touch in Bale's cross for Benzema's goal, and also had a part to play in Madrid's second. His slowness in releasing the ball scuppered a couple of promising moves in the second half. He was replaced by Vázquez with 20 minutes remaining.
Came on for Vinicius shortly after the midway point of the second half, and marked the opening minutes of his LaLiga season with the goal that put the game to bed.
Introduced in place of Bale with 15 minutes to go, he participated in the attack that led to Vázquez's goal and might have scored one himself, drawing a fine diving save from Blanco after his original free-kick effort had hit the wall and bounced back to him.
The striker came on for Benzema after 81 minutes, and had little time to make an impact.
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