KARIM BENZEMA CONVERTS DOUBLE PENALTIES TO WIN A WAY FROM HOME AGAINST CELTIC.
Karim Benzema converted two penalties, either side of missing one, as Real Madrid ended Celta Vigo’s six-game unbeaten run at the Estadio de Balaídos, with a 2-1 win in La Liga (LL).
Celta’s slick start brought a hatful of chances, the best of which fell to Iago Aspas, who has scored an incredible 73% of his side’s league goals this campaign. The skipper almost netted his 14th of the season when his shot deflected over the Madrid bar. The hosts continued to probe, however, and forced another save from Thibaut Courtois, who denied a powerful strike from Denis Suárez.
Against the leaders, though, you have to be clinical, and Madrid, who were returning to league action after their humbling by Barcelona last time out, started to threaten. The warning signs were there for Celta, as Benzema and Vinícius Júnior both went close, before Eduardo Coudet’s outfit were punished when Madrid took the lead on 19 minutes. It was a gift too, with Nolito fouling Éder Militão in the area, which allowed Benzema to record his 23rd league goal from the spot.
To their credit, Celta continued undeterred, and might have equalised on two occasions in the first half, but for a matter of inches. First, Courtois was on hand, diving to his right to pluck Aspas’ curling free-kick out of the top corner, before the hosts then had an equaliser ruled out by VAR. After Thiago Galhardo’s header was pushed onto the post by Courtois, the ball spun back into the net, but Aspas, who did not touch the ball, was deemed offside, having shepherded the rebound over the line.
Despite Luka Modrić almost doubling Madrid’s lead shortly after the break, the hosts had an equaliser in the 52nd minute through Nolito – the only player in either 11 to feature in Celta’s last victory over Madrid. The experienced Spaniard latched onto a pass from Javi Galan, striking past Courtois, but again, Celta let Madrid back into a game they had dominated.
What followed was two moments of madness. First, Jeison Murillo gave Madrid their second penalty of the match, but they escaped, Matías Dituro sprawling to his right to deny Benzema from 12 yards. The Celta faithful had barely finished celebrating when Madrid were awarded their third penalty of the match four minutes later. Benzema stepped up again to put ‘Los Blancos’ back in front, and ensure that, with victory, his side moved 12 points clear of second-placed Sevilla, who travel to Barcelona on Sunday.