Karim Benzema delivers dominant display, Alvaro Odriozola shines as Real Madrid win again
Santi Solari's fourth and final game as "interim" Real Madrid coach saw his side again nowhere near their fluid best, but battle through to a fourth consecutive win, with the 4-2 result mostly down to a tremendous centre-forward performance from Karim Benzema.
Benzema was just unstoppable tonight and easily the most decisive player on the pitch. Sergio Ramos showed he is becoming, somewhat surprisingly, a reliable penalty taker. Dani Ceballos filled in admirably in holding midfield and added the fourth goal from long range, while the defence held together pretty well despite the starting holding midfielder, left-back and centre-back all limping off injured.
For a third straight game Madrid saw their opponents hit the woodwork with the game at 0-0, while both La Liga wins under Solari have featured opposition own goals. Relying on such good fortune is not a long-term strategy but then Solari can argue that he has also had rotten luck with injuries.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- This was the toughest test of Solari's four games in charge, but his side battled through for a fourth successive win. Most impressive was how the team mostly kept its shape and discipline despite losing defensive figures regularly through the 90 minutes, due perhaps to the calmness and focus the Argentine has brought to the job.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 8 -- Got away with it when Okay Yokuslu headed off the post, then made top saves deny Brais Mendes and Iago Aspas either side of half-time.
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 8 -- Defensively tested by on loan from Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal, looked more comfortable going forward and won the ball back in the lead-up to the killer Gustavo Cabral own goal and won the penalty from which Sergio Ramos sealed the three points
DF Nacho Fernandez, 6 -- Did not look too comfortable at centre-back in the first half, then hurt his knee at left-back after the break.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- Was caught out when Celta right-back Hugo Mallo made it 2-1, but made some crucial interventions when leading a patched up backline through the closing stages, and showed admirable (or infuriating) cheek with the decisive "panenka" penalty late on.
DF Sergio Reguilon, 7 -- Youngster again raided forward dangerously from left-back, including one peach of a cross on the run that almost gave Benzema a free header for 2-0. Left with muscle problem before half-time.
MF Luka Modric , 6 -- A perfectly lifted assist for Benzema's opener was the best thing Modric has done so far this season, but he did not have his usual influence in regular play, and was among those ball-watching for Celta's second goal.
MF Casemiro, N/R -- Picked up an ankle knock in early challenge with Celta's Maxi Gomez, and had to be replaced after just 19 minutes.
MF Toni Kroos, 6 -- Missed an open goal for 2-0 in first half, and again did not provide the control of the game that is his primary job.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 5 -- Surprisingly kept his place ahead of Marco Asensio and Isco on the right wing. Did little in attack but his versatility and dependability was useful when he ended the game filling in at left-back.
FW Karim Benzema, 9 -- Opened the scoring with a really excellent goal, with his movement, first touch and finish all top quality. Denied by the crossbar in the second half, then his shot hit keeper and post before bouncing off Celta defender Gustavo Cabral and into the net for 2-0.
FW Gareth Bale, 4 -- Challenged yesterday to eat up every stage he treads, Bale was only a shadow of a Galactico star, especially absent after getting banged on the ankle near half-time
MF Dani Ceballos, 8 -- Entered after only 20 minutes for Casemiro, and battled gamely in the unfamiliar holding role. Crowned his performance by hammering a 25-yarder into the top corner late on.
DF Javi Sanchez, 6 -- The 21 year old centre-back made his La Liga debut off the bench, was booked for a naive trip on Maxi Gomez soon after entering. Recovered to help see out late Celta pressure, albeit with misfortune As a late Brais Mendez consolation hit him on the way into the net.
FW, Marco Asensio, N/R -- Mostly involved in covering down the right wing as Celta had most of the ball during his 20 minutes on the pitch.