A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo ensured Real Madrid came away from Estadio Balaídos with all three points following a 2-1 win against Celta de Vigo.
Los Blancos struggled to come to terms with an incredibly high defensive line from the hosts as they were caught offside no fewer than eight times in a scoreless first half.
The half-time introduction of Xabi Alonso - and, in particular, his range of passing - swung the game in the favour of the visitors but it was Ronaldo who gave the men from Madrid the lead with 61 minutes gone.
Iago Aspas restored almost immediate parity two minutes later before Ronaldo dispatched a 71st minute penalty to secure all three points for Jose Mourinho’s men
Having coupled back-to-back Clasico wins with victory over Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Mourinho elected to ring the changes for the trip to Vigo to face second-from-bottom Celta.
Mourinho made seven changes to the side that beat United but it was the absence of Alonso that served to frustrate the visitors as they struggled to dictate the pace of the game with the hosts playing a high defensive line.
The opening half saw Madrid caught continually offside and the hosts could have taken the lead with a speculative volley from Alex Lopez that Diego Lopez just managed to get down to.
Madrid appeared to take heed from that warning as they came to terms with the Celta high line to create three clear-cut chances but they were thwarted as the game went to the interval level.
First Javier Varas saved a snap-shot from Karim Benzema before then saving at the feet of Jose Maria Callejon and, when the keeper was finally beaten, Ronaldo’s header came back off the bar.
Alonso, on in the stead of Sami Khedira, broadened the visitors’ range of passing but the hosts remained relatively comfortable until Ronaldo swivelled to fire a half-blocked shot past Varas on the hour. However, Os Celestes were level with their next foray forward.
Aspas escaped the attentions of Pepe before turning Augusto Fernandez’s centre toward goal. While the shot was on target, Lopez had it covered, but, in his attempts to make amends for having lost his man, Pepe turned the ball past his keeper and into the unguarded net with an attempted block with 63 minutes on the clock.
Mourinho reacted with a double substitution and one of those changes, Kaka, exchanged passes with Alonso before going down under the challenge of Varas to earn the penalty for Ronaldo to give the visitors a slender advantage from the spot.
As both teams lost the early tactical discipline that had marked the game, half-chances were aplenty but ultimately wasted as the game drew to a close.
Gonzalo Higuain wasted Real’s best chance when he contrived to stab a Mesut Ozil centre wide of the post with the goal gaping and Park Chu-Young almost punished that miss with a leveller in the penultimate minute of the game but, having beaten Lopez to the ball, his header came back off the bar.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Real Madrid
- Xabi Alonso
- Jose Mourinho
- Celta de Vigo