Isco and Bale give Zidane win on Real Madrid return
La Liga, Bernabeu - Real Madrid 2 (Isco 62', Bale 77') Celta Vigo 0
Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid started with a win, with Gareth Bale and Isco finding the net in a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Celta Vigo.
The Frenchman made a number of bold selection picks, with Thibaut Courtois dropping to the bench for Keylor Navas. There were also starting places for Isco, sidelined under Santiago Solari, and for the much criticised Gareth Bale.
It took Real Madrid a while to get going, feeling their way into the game through a low tempo, insipid first half. However, the hosts stepped things up in the second half, creating more in front goal.
Luka Modric looked to have broken the deadlock after 57 minutes, but Raphael Varane was adjudged to have interfered with play from an offside position as the Croatian’s bouncing shot ended up in the net.
Five minutes later, though, and the opening goal was finally scored. Marco Asensio dribbled past two players on the edge of the box before threading in Karim Benzema, who found Isco in the middle with a low cross.
Real Madrid doubled their advantage after 77 minutes when Marcelo played through Bale to finish with a right-footed shot off the inside of the post. In the grand scheme of things, the result matters little to Real Madrid, whose season is all but over, but it got Zidane off to a winning start.
Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Isco (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at the Santiago BernabeuGetty Images
TALKING POINT - Zidane will face tougher tests, but this was a good start
Celta Vigo are in turgid form, losing five of their last six La Liga games. Tougher tests will come for Zidane between now and the end of the season, but was a good start to his second spell as Real Madrid manager. The hosts never looked threatened, they seemed secure in a way that hasn’t been apparent all season long. There’s just something about the Frenchman that gets more out of this group of players.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
There were three standout performers for Real Madrid against Celta Vigo - Asensio, Bale and Isco. The thing that links them? All three players were sidelined by Solari. Bale was the pick of the trio, though. The Welsh winger looked liberated by the change in management, given something of a free role by Zidane to roam across the frontline. Last week, Bale’s Real Madrid career looked over. Now, it could be back on course.
Gareth Bale Getty Images
Celta Vigo - Blanco 6, Vazquez 5, Araujo 5, Costas 5, Junca 3, Yokuslu 5, Lobotka 5, Sisto 4, Mendez 5, Boufal 6, Gomez 6. Subs - Hoedt 6, Beltran 5, Hjulsager 5.
6’ Junca injury! It looks like Celta Vigo are going to be forced into an early change here. Junca appears to have pulled his groin in the opening stages of this match. He will come off.
16’ What a save! That's why Navas is back in the Real Madrid team! The cross came into the box from the right wing, Gomez got his head on the end of the delivery, but the Costa Rican tips over!
30’ Underside of the bar! So close to being an opener for Real Madrid! Asensio's cross into the box causes mayhem and falls to Bale, whose scissor kick comes off the underside of the crossbar!
36’ Ramos heads wide! The Real Madrid captain comes close to adding to his tally for the season, heading wide from a corner kick. He might have scored that. The home side are starting to crank thing up now.
44’ GOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Real Madrid have a goal chalked off. Benzema had the ball in the back of he net, converting from a Bale cross. But the whistle had already gone for a foul. Bale put a hand into the face of Vazquez.
57’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Modric has the ball in the back of the net with a bouncing ball. However, there was a long delay to check whether an offside player was interfering and in the end the goal is chalked off. That was probably the correct decision.
62’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Celta Vigo: Wouldn't you just know that it would be Isco to score the first goal of Zidane's second spell as Real Madrid manager? Asensio skips past one and then two, plays it wide to Benzema, who squares for Isco to finish from close range in the middle. Real Madrid finally have the lead!
77’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Celta Vigo: It's a second goal for Real Madrid and Bale has made his mark! Marcelo threaded the pass through to the Welsh winger, who cut across his shot and guided the ball into the back of the net off the inside of the post. Real are out of sight now.
Isco Getty Images
Isco scored his first La Liga goal since Zinedine Zidane’s last La Liga game in charge at the end of last season, also against Celta Vigo.
Only Barcelona (16) have hit the woodwork more times than Real Madrid (15) in La Liga this season.