Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid (Vinicius Júnior, Luka Modrić & Eden Hazard). This is the immediate reaction to the away victory. Still to come: press conferences, player evaluations and a ManagingMadrid podcast.
The Champions League has arrived, and Real Madrid must once again grasp their title as European Champions. A trip to chilly Scotland was a first for Los Blancos, as national Champions Celtic played host for the evening. Carlo Ancelotti’s team was predictably strong, with Karim Benzema commanding arguably the strongest line-up available. Antonio Rüdiger and Eden Hazard were on the bench as reinforcements, with only Álvaro Odriozola and Jesús Vallejo missing through injury.
The atmosphere at Celtic Park was incredible, and the home fans really pushed their side to try and cause an upset. For much of the first half, the heart the hosts played with really worked for them – especially when Karim Benzema had to pull off through injury. He was replaced by Eden Hazard. Celtic had some huge chances to score, with Callum McGregor coming closest after hitting the post from the edge of the box. Madrid did enough to pose some danger in attack, with Fede Valverde shooting just wide with his weaker foot. Vinícius Júnior almost snuck Madrid into the lead just before half-time, but Joe Hart was there to deny the Brazilian.
At the start of the second half, Celtic continued to press for something despite being dominated in possession. After battling through a number of domestic chances, Madrid seemed to shake off the pressure and nervousness – and quickly secured the opening goal. Vinícius Júnior hit a low shot past the goalkeeper to ensure he is the man the team continues to look for in King Karim’s absence. Minutes later, there were two. Eden Hazard broke free really well before picking out Luka Modrić who cut inside and unleashed a shot with the outside of his foot. The goalkeeper got a hand to it but it wasn’t enough to stop the strike finding the net. It was all Real Madrid from here, and a string of substitutions from both sides failed to change the dynamic. Eden Hazard made it 3-0 himself when Toni Kroos played an incredible pass over the entire defense – allowing Dani Carvajal to ease the ball down for the Belgian to tap the ball home. Thibaut Courtois had to work for his clean sheet towards the end when the forward almost capitalized on a mistake, but the keeper made a superb save to secure the 3-0 win for Madrid. Did you enjoy the Champions League opening win?