Carlo Ancelotti praised Real Madrid‘s resilience for offering a ‘master class in the second half in a 3-0 win against Celtic and starting Champions League defence after a difficult first 45 minutes in which Karim Benzema lost an injury. Eden Hazard scored the third goal to end Real Madrid’s win and defeat Celtic in their first Champions League group match. The impressive Celtics failed to score in the opening 45 minutes, and Real Madrid showed their cutthroat lead in the final with goals from Vinicius Jr. and veteran conspirator Luka Modric to snatch the game from Celtic. Celtic persisted in trying for anything at the start of the second half despite being out-possessed. After fending off a few opportunities at home, Madrid seemed to relax and shed its tension.
The strength of Carlo Ancelotti’s team was expected, with Karim Benzema leading perhaps the best lineup available. Only Lvaro Odriozola and Jess Vallejo could not play due to injury, leaving Antonio Rüdiger and Eden Hazard on the substitutes’ bench. The atmosphere at Celtic Park was incredible, as home supporters aggressively pushed their team forward to pull off an upset. The passion with which the home team played was genuinely paying off for them for a significant portion of the first half, especially when Karim Benzema had to limp off due to an injury. Eden Hazard took over in his position. Callum McGregor, who shot from the edge of the box and hit the post, had the best scoring opportunity for Celtic. Madrid exerted sufficient effort on their own to create some assault threat, with Valverde’s weaker foot shot going just wide. Just before halftime, Vinicius Jr. came close to giving Madrid the lead, but Joe Hart stopped him.
Benzema’s season hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts, and it seemed like he was having trouble finding his rhythm in most games. Just this setback will be a further obstacle. The reality of the situation is that Real Madrid currently lacks a solid Benzema backup option. Hazard was brought in to replace Mariano Diaz since the Frenchman hasn’t performed well since returning to the team. Although Hazard is not a pure striker, there are concerns about his fitness and how long he will stay in shape if he consistently plays for the first team. The soon-to-be 37-year-old was in a different class. He had 100 touches, scored through the outside of his boot, and won the midfield duel. What a player, in robotic German style, Kroos delivered an almost flawless performance. One hundred thirty-six touches, 119 passes, 96% pass accuracy, and 17 of 17 long balls completed for the team.