Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez stole the show as Real Madrid eased past Celta Vigo 2-0 at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Saturday night.
It just took six minutes for Real Madrid to go in front as Lucas Vazquez nodded home Marco Asensio’s cross, moments after Iago Aspas had a shot cleared off the line by Nacho at the other end. The hosts looked comfortable from that point and came close to doubling their lead, with Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal missing narrowly as half-time approached.
Ten minutes into the second half Zinedine Zidane’s men did double their advantage as this time out, Vazquez turned provider for Asensio, who hit a powerful shot into the back of the net. Benzema had a couple of chances to add to the scoreline but could not find the target while Miguel Baeza was denied at the other end late in the game, as Real Madrid held on for a win.
The result meant Los Blancos moved to the top of the La Liga table, opening up a one-point lead over Atletico Madrid, who still have three games in hand. And here’s how we rated the performances of the Real Madrid stars on Saturday night.
Thibaut Courtois: 6.5/10
Got caught out by Aspas’s chipped effort in the first half and had to be rescued by Nacho. Did not have much to do from that point on, but stayed alert to palm away Baeza’s effort in stoppage time to protect his clean sheet.
Dani Carvajal: 7/10
Having come under some criticism for giving away the penalty last time out, the Spaniard redeemed himself with a solid performance. Managed to keep Nolito quiet for the majority of the game and got forward well too. Came close to scoring close to half-time, with his effort missing narrowly.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Put in an assured display at the heart of the Real Madrid defence despite the absence of captain and regular defensive partner Sergio Ramos. Made sure that Santi Mina did not get much joy on the night and made a game-high eight clearances while misplacing just five passes.
?| Nacho Fernandez vs Celta:
• 4 clearances.
• 2 blocks.
• 2 interceptions.
• 3 tackles.
• 1 off the line clearance.
• 56 touches.
• 37/40 passes completed (93%).
• 7/7 long balls completed.
An absolute rock at the back and perfect on the ball! ?? #rmalive pic.twitter.com/uXxnLE7AUX
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridZone) January 2, 2021
Stepping into the starting lineup in the absence of Ramos, the Real Madrid cantera ensured that the captain was not missed on the night. Set the tone with a key clearance early in the game to thwart Aspas’ chipped effort. Dealt impressively with the striker, although a hard challenge forced the Celta striker off with an injury while earning him a booking.
Posted impressive defensive numbers, making three tackles, two interceptions and four clearances while he also had a pass accuracy of 93% on the night. Impressive.
Ferland Mendy: 7/10
Back into the starting XI after being left out for Marcelo last time out, the Frenchman might not provide the same attacking impetus as the veteran, but was rock solid at the back, hardly letting anything get past him. Chose his moments to get forward and had a couple of shots, the lesser said about which, the better.
Luka Modric: 7.5/10
35-year old Modric. No one is surprised. #RMACEL pic.twitter.com/QfKM7VL1ae
— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) January 2, 2021
Another performance that makes you wonder if he is really 35 years old. Ran around and covered plenty of the ground to help out when not in possession while he drove his team forward and looked to make things when on the ball. Won the ball back and started the move for the second goal. Ended the game with one dribble, one tackle, two interceptions and 93% pass success rate.
Had to be at the top of his game in the first half when Celta Vigo looked to cause problems to the hosts. Things got much more comfortable after the break, as he settled into things and shielded his defence effectively from the middle. Made a game-high three interceptions and four tackles and won a couple of aerial duels as well.
Toni Kroos: 7.5/10
Kept Real Madrid ticking with his precise distribution, as he completed 60 of the 64 attempted passes on the night, that included a couple of key passes, one of which set Benzema up for a chance but the Frenchman failed to convert. Put in the hard yards off the ball, making three interceptions and a tackle to help his team out. Reliable as ever.
Lucas Vazquez: 8/10
The Spaniard has really become a key member of the team over the past few weeks. Retained in the starting XI once again on the right flank, Vazquez got Real Madrid off the mark with a good header to guide Asensio’s cross into the net. Worked extremely hard off the ball to help out Carvajal in the right side channel and got the assist for Asensio’s goal with a straightforward squared pass.
First goal of 2021 Lucas vazquez assist use Marco Asensio ?#HalaMadrid
— ℤ?ℤ?? (@zi_84) January 2, 2021
Played three key passes, won four aerial duels and made a tackle and interception each. Based on recent evidence, Los Blancos must secure his future with a new contract.
Karim Benzema: 6.5/10
Captaining the team in Ramos’s absence, Benzema caused plenty of problems to the Celta Vigo defence with his movement and link-up with Asensio in the first half. But, he lacked the clinical touch in front of goal on the night. Sent his effort just wide either side of half-time before firing another shot well over late in the game. Still, managed to play one key pass while making one dribble and winning two aerials.
Marco Asensio: 8/10
Looked close to his best after quite some time as the Spaniard seemed to be in his elements from the get-go. Got the assist for the opening goal with a fine cross from the left for Vazquez, created a chance for Benzema soon after and then got his first goal in six months, firing in a left-footed shot from just inside the box. A step in the right direction for the Spanish international, who needs to kick on from here.
?| Marco Asensio vs Celta:
• 74 minutes played.
• 46 touches.
• 23/27 passes completed (85%).
• 1 key pass.
• 1 dribble completed.
• 1 shot.
• 1 interception.
• 1 assist.
• 1 goal.
His best performance of the season so far! ?? #rmalive pic.twitter.com/17A3kViI43
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridZone) January 2, 2021
Eden Hazard: N/A
Replaced Asensio for the final fifteen minutes. Did not do much of note.
Vinicius Junior: N/A
On for Carvajal in the 85th minute. No time to make any sort of impact.
Martin Odegaard: N/A
Came on for Modric with five minutes left. Not enough time to warrant a rating.
Federico Valverde: N/A
Sent on to replace Kroos for the last five minutes. Not enough time to warrant a rating.
Mariano Diaz: N/A
Late substitute for Benzema.
Stop benching ø and fede