Real Madrid went top of La Liga with a 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo that saw Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez find the back of the net.
Sergio Ramos missed out for the Spanish champions having missed training on New Year’s Day through illness, but Real Madrid coped well without their captain, taking the lead after just six minutes.
Iago Aspas was presented with a golden opportunity, but had his goal-bound shot cleared by Nacho. Seconds later, Asensio surged forward on the counter attack and played a cross to the back post for Vazquez to head home.
Celta Vigo were dealt a blow not long into the second half when Aspas was forced off through injury and things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Asensio swept a finish past Ruben Blanco on 53 minutes.
The victory takes Real Madrid to top spot in the La Liga table on 36 points, although Atletico Madrid, who have three games in hand, can reclaim first place with a win against Getafe on Sunday.
Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
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TALKING POINT - Zinedine Zidane’s game plan worked perfectly
This had the potential to be a tricky test for Real Madrid with Celta Vigo one of La Liga’s most in-form teams as they turned up at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano. But the defending Spanish champions completely nullified Celta Vigo as an attacking threat, keeping them at arm’s length for the full 90 minutes. This required Real Madrid to give up a lot of possession and play in a more conservative way than would ordinarily be customary for a team of their calibre, but Zidane’s game plan worked and was executed to perfection.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
2020 was a rough year for Asensio. He missed much of the year through injury and then struggled for form and full fitness when he did return to action. On the basis of this performance, though, and some encouraging displays in recent weeks, Asensio is close to being back to his best. The 24-year-old registered a goal and an assist in this game. More than that, he was the dynamo through which much of Real Madrid’s attacking play flowed. With Asensio on one side and Vazquez on the other, the Spanish champions are a well balanced side.
Toni Kroos and Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid)
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Real Madrid - Courtois 5, Carvajal 7, Nacho 7, Varane 6, Mendy 7, Casemiro 5, Modric 7, Kroos 6, Vazquez 8, Benzema 6, Asensio 8. Subs - Hazard 5, Valverde, Militao, Mariano, Vinicius.
Celta Vigo - Blanco 5, Mallo 5, Murillo 5, Araujo 6, Olaza 5, Tapia 7, D. Suarez 4, Mendez 5, Nolito 6, Aspas 6, Mina 5. Subs - Beltran 5, Baeza 5.
5’ Off the line! Nolito plays a wonderful clipped pass over the top for Aspas, but his shot is cleared off the line by Nacho who was back behind Courtois to provide some emergency cover!
6’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Celta Vigo: Real Madrid have taken the lead! They countered after Aspas had a shot cleared off the line. Asensio played the cross to the back post and Vazquez was on hand to head home from a narrow angle! Blanco couldn't get there!
50’ Aspas injury! This is bad news for Celta Vigo. Aspas has picked up an injury here after a challenge by Nacho and the away side are going to be forced into a change. He's been in such good form!
53’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Celta Vigo: It's a second goal for Real Madrid! Celta Vigo gave up the ball cheaply inside their own half, Vazquez played the pass into Asensio who was completely free inside the box and he made no mistake in sweeping a finish Blanco and into the net!
Lucas Vazquez has now scored three times against Celta Vigo in La Liga, more than against any other side.
Real Madrid are unbeaten in the 30 La Liga games they have played with Ferland Mendy in the starting lineup. They have lost six times without him as a starter.