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Real Madrid picked up back-to-back wins to start their La Liga title defense as goals from Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde sealed a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side reached an agreement with Manchester United on Friday for the sale of midfielder Casemiro, but they barely missed the Brazilian enforcer in what was a dominating performance against Eduardo Coudet’s men at Balaidos .

Benzema opened his league account for the season from the penalty spot early on, before Iago Aspas equalized with his own kick midway through the first half.

Modric put Madrid ahead again with a superb strike shortly before half-time, while Vinicius and Valverde were on target in the second half as Los Blancos, who missed a late penalty by Eden Hazard, wrapped up a maximum dots with the minimum of fuss.

Madrid took the lead in the 14th minute through Benzema’s penalty after David Alaba’s shot crashed into Renato Tapia’s arm, the kick delivered after a lengthy pitch review by referee Jesus Gil Manzano.

Celta equalized with their own penalty in the 23rd minute, Aspas striking powerfully past Thibaut Courtois from 12 yards out after Goncalo Paciencia’s header was blocked by Eder Militao’s arm.

However, Los Blancos restored their lead three minutes before the break, when Modric worked his way to the edge of the box and delivered a sumptuous strike into the top left corner of Agustin Marchesin.

Modric was also key to Madrid’s third goal, with the midfielder sending a fine ball past Vinicius, who rounded Marchesin and ducked into an empty net in the 56th minute.

Valverde then added a fourth 10 minutes later with a clinical finish from 15 yards following a smooth counter-attacking move, before substitute Hazard saw his spot-kick saved by Marchesin after Benzema was the victim of a fault of Hugo Mallo.

What does it mean? Madrid prolong crushing of desolate Celta

Celta hadn’t won any of their previous 16 games against Real Madrid in La Liga (D2 L14), and it wasn’t hard to see why, as a dominating Madrid stretched that run to 17.

Despite the loss of Casemiro, Los Blancos look healthy for the 2022-23 season. The win means they have won their first two LaLiga games in a season for the first time since 2018-19 under Julen Lopetegui.

Masterful Modric

Modric certainly didn’t seem to suffer from Casemiro’s absence. The Croatia international restored Madrid’s lead with a superb strike – his 18th from outside the penalty area for the club – before setting up Vinicius’s goal with a typically incisive pass.

Benzema punishes Celta again

Benzema’s early strike from the spot means he’s now been involved in an incredible 10 goals in his last four La Liga games against Celta (eight goals and two assists), including two braces and a hat-trick. They will be happy to see him from behind for a few months at least.

And after?

Celta are away at Girona on Friday, while Madrid travel to Espanyol two days later – their third consecutive away game to start the season.


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