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Celta de Vigo
20 October 2012
• Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Referee: Carlos Clos Gomez
• Attendance: 70000
G. Higuaín 11'
Cristiano Ronaldo 67'
Celta de Vigo
That's all from me today, my name has been Daniel Edwards and, as always, it has been a pleasure to take you through Madrid's win today. Farewell.
For now the Merengue occupy fourth place in La Liga, a position they will hold at the end of the weekend unless Betis take all three points against Osasuna tomorrow. For now, at least, the deficit behind Barcelona has been cut to five.
Solid, workmanlike, straightforward, and at times pretty uninspiring. Four words to sum up what we just saw from the 2011-12 champions, who never really got out of third gear but ended up strolling to victory.
And that's all folks! Clos Gomez blows the final whistle to bring the curtain down on a vital Real Madrid victory, they have taken down Celta 2-0 thanks to goals from Higuain and Cristiano.
90' + 3'
Benzema thinks for a second he has wrapped up the game after being played in by Ronaldo, but he was undoubtedly offside before smashing the ball home in the final minute.
90' + 1'
Varane again goes close with the head, but the ball goes wide. Madrid fans are already starting to celebrate the victory.
Three minutes of injury time to be played in the Bernabeu.
Sergio cannot claim a deep corner and the ball falls squarely at the feet of Benzema. The bomb is armed, but Mallo gets his body in the way to save the third.
Casillas to the rescue again! The keeper has to fend off a point-blank header from Park, and is more than up to the task. Easily Celta's clearest chance of the evening.
Ronaldo's cross is close to finding Benzema free in the area, but the offside flag is raised against the Frenchman.
Sergio Ramos slams a free kick into the wall, more precisely straight into the face of Bermejo. The game is stopped while the woozy Celta player works out where he is.
A big ovation for Gonzalo Higuain as the Argentine goalscorer is withdrawn for Karim Benzema.
Iker is called into action again, parrying away a shot from De Lucas that threatened to cut the deficit.
A let-off for Casillas there! The goalkeeper was forced to scramble after fumbling a wicked low free-kick, but composed himself to dive on the ball like a grenade at the second offering.
10 minutes to go here in the Bernabeu, and the game is meandering towards its inevitable conclusion. Madrid have been far from impressive but it is the win that will go down in the records.
Yellow Card Roberto Lago
CALLEJON!!! The sub did well to reach Ramos' brilliant ball over the top but his shot was denied by the legs of Sergio. Higuain blazes the rebound three miles over the crossbar.
Yellow Card Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos is given a somewhat harsh booking, he flew high to make a headed interception but landed squarely on the foot of a pained Lago.
More decent linkplay between Higuain and Di Maria, two of the best in this second half. Pipita opens to shoot, but sees his effort deflected for a corner.
Higuain takes Cristiano's pass and bears down on goal but the Argentine is - narrowly but correctly - judged to be offside.
The new boy wastes no time in making an impact, latching on to Di Maria's intelligent ball and flashing his shot inches wide.
Ozil becomes the latest Blanco to leave the field, replaced by Callejon.
A real let-off there for Madrid and Ronaldo, the softest of penalties converted with class to double the advantage. This injury-hit team will take the points, but it's been far from convincing.
Higuain untroubled in heading away the free-kick, this should be three points for Madrid now.
Yellow Card Iker Casillas
Casillas handles outside the area under pressure from Bermejo, and earns a yellow card.
Penalty Goal Cristiano Ronaldo
GOALLL!!!! Cristiano sends the keeper the wrong way and buries the ball into the left corner, completing his clean sweep of Liga teams against whom he has scored. A soft goal for Celta to concede.
Yellow Card Gustavo Daniel Cabral
Penalty!!! Cabral pushes Ozil in the back with no danger and the German hurls himself to the floor. Yellow for the Argentine, a really bone-headed play.
Ozil and Modric do their best to open the game up but their passes are not getting through.
Varane is all over Mallo to reach the corner, but the French teenager nods wide.
A lovely ball over the top finds Cristiano onside and with time, but he hesitates and Lago slides in to block the cross.
CRISTIANO!!!! A simply magical cross from Essien finds the leaping Lusitanian free in the area, but he once more fails to hit the target.
They've got to watch out too, Celta are pushing more and more men forward. So far the Merengue defence has been solid.
Pretty uninspiring from the home team right now. In the first half a lack of execution was to blame; right now, a simple lack of ideas to break down the visitors.
Cool stuff from Pepe. Augusto looked a good bet to reach the ball down by the corner flag, but the defender took control and came away cleanly to take back possession.
Ramos intercepts near the halfway line and strides forward with purpose. The defender goes for glory but once again finds a Celta body in his path.
Aspas probes with the corner, but it's Cristiano in his own area who heads away the danger.
Yellow Card Xabi Alonso
Augusto Fernandez was rather enthusiastic going for a ball with Essien, and the Argentine left his mark on the full back with a boot straight to the family jewels. Ouch.
Celta look to make something happen through Aspas and Krohn-Dehli, but the home marking is fierce and they are forced to backtrack. Defensively at least Madrid have been impeccable today.
The Portugal man tries to redeem himself burrowing down the left. He is well covered, and has to settle for a corner.
Di Maria and Higuain show the crowd their Argentine flair, with a sumptuous one-two. Ronaldo is off the pace though when Fideo threads through and Alvarez is there.
Modric tries his luck from deep, but his shot smashes into a defender and away from harm.
The set-piece is well covered by Madrid though, who earn a foul to clear the danger.
Xabi Alonso pulled up for a soft free-kick, and Celta will pump the ball into the danger zone.
One change for the home team, Di Maria enters for Kaka.
Ángel Di María
We're ready for the second half, Celta kick off for the next 45 minutes.
Celta, meanwhile, will probably not be too displeased to go in one down. They have seen little of the ball, but through Aspas especially there is the suggestion that they could still spring a surprise here.
The trade-off, however, has been the disappearance of those rapid attacks over the top that lead to so many Merengue goals. Ronaldo in particular seems to be struggling to adapt his game to the more measured pace.
What we saw in the first 45 minutes from the home team was an example of using a scalpel rather than a bulldozer to break open the opposition. The Modric-Ozil-Kaka axis guaranteed a massive control of the game and possession.
45' + 1'
And that's the end of the first half, Real Madrid leading 1-0 with Gonzalo Higuain's strike the difference.
Moving into injury time at the Bernabeu, with one minute added. Pipita's strike has put Madrid into a strong position, but they really should have pressed for more during a one-sided half.
Kaka tries to be clever, letting Ramos' ball through his legs in the hope of feeding Higuain. Unfortunately, the trick didn't come off for the playmaker and Celta survive.
A half to forget so far for Ronaldo. He's seen several golden chances go awry and his crossing has been poor; another centre with time and targets is easily cleared by the men in black and red.
Tunez had to be alert there, the Venezuela international reacting well to cut out a through-ball with Cristiano charging down on him.
This is better from the hosts. Cristiano shapes to cross from an acute angle on the right, but instead goes himself and slams into the side-netting. There were men in the box, perhaps the cross would have been a wiser decision...
Again it's Modric who looks to get his team firing. Another pass sets up Kaka on the left, but the Brazilian's cross effort goes straight into a Celta player and the danger passes.
Almost the second! Madrid were patient, waiting for the opening until it arrived in the shape of Modric who threaded the ball through to Ronaldo. The hitman took his effort on the volley, but it was weak and clipped the bar on its way over.
The home team stride forward with purpose and Modric makes his way into the danger zone, but his final pass to Ronaldo was one to forget and the ball is cleared.
Aspas again making life uncomfortable for Madrid. The No. 10 tries his luck from deep, but it's deflected behind for a corner.
A lot of passing from the Merengue here in the middle, but right now they're struggling to find a way through for the second.
Cristiano flashes a devilish cross across the face of goal after a little bit of wing trickery, but it's too hot for Higuain.
Modric has enjoyed a very encouraging start to this game. The most withdrawn of that creative trio, the ex-Spurs man is controlling the tempo from the centre-circle.
The Galicians have fought their way back into contention somewhat after a nightmare opening, but Madrid remain clearly on top.
First real chance there for Celta. Aspas escapes from the Madrid defence and releases a ripping shot from the edge of the area, palmed away by Casillas.
Immaculate defending there from Ramos, who sneaks in front of Lucas to head a cross behind his own goal. No danger from the corner.
How did he miss? A great combination between Higuain and Ronaldo led to the Argentine putting in a tempting cross. Cristiano leapt well to meet it, but from barely 5m out knocked the header wide.
Ronaldo lets loose from distance, but his shot is deflected for yet another corner.
The numbers don't lie people. Madrid enjoyed 76% of possession in the opening 15 minutes.
Oooh Ramos again!!! Varane's teasing cross is nodded down by Pepe, and the Spain international hooks his effort over the bar.
Ronaldo smells blood, but his ferocious shot bounces off the top of the wall for a corner.
Higuain takes a rather theatrical tumble on the edge of the area from Lago's challenge, and here is an interesting free-kick chance.
Celta enjoying a little bit of possession but they're pinned back down the pitch, strong pressing from the Merengue cutting down the spaces.
Wonderful start to proceedings here from Madrid, who have dominated from the first whistle. Their short, one-touch passing today, dare I say, looks rather reminiscent of a Catalan outfit you may have heard of...
Xabi Alonso sends a probing free-kick into the area, but it's too long and goes out for a goal kick.
Goal Gonzalo Higuaín
GOAL!!!!! Was it a cross, was it a shot? Pipita won't care, his left-footed effort from wide floated over Sergio's head to give his side the lead. A slight deflection helped the ball on its way, but it looked like the Argentine did see the keeper straying off his line before going for the net.
Some lovely play there from the hosts, Kaka does the hard work and Higuain sends the ball in Ozil's direction with a neat flick. The German, however, is stopped in his tracks.
Celta are playing very deep here and so far it's working, lots of possession for the men in white but little goalmouth action.
Kaka looks to make some space on the left hand side of the box, but he's shadowed well and the ball is out for a throw.
A lot of the talk leading up to kick-off has been the inclusion for Madrid of three creative midfielders, and pretty good ones at that! What do you think of the magic triangle of Ozil-Kaka-Modric in the middle of the pitch?
RAMOS!! The defender rises well to meet a corner, but heads just wide.
Well no two ways about it, this is a must-win for Madrid. Lying fifth at the start of play, eight points behind leaders Barcelona, the Merengue cannot afford to drop anything against the side currently occupying 12th.
An early break from Cristiano who makes some space down the right, but his cross is too close to Varas.
And that's the real one! Madrid get us started on a fine Saturday afternoon in Spain's capital.
Legendary cyclist Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France, will take the honorary kick-off at the Bernabeu today
Of course no Madrid build-up would be complete without a mention of Cristiano Ronaldo. The goal-hungry Portuguese international today faces the one Liga side he has never scored against. Will he break that duck today?
And for our esteemed visitors from Galicia... Varas; Mallo, Cabral, Tunez, Lago; Oubina, Alex Lopez, Bustos; Augusto, Aspas, Krohn-Delhi.
We're about 10 minutes from kick off here, how would you like the starting line-ups? We'll start with Madrid... Casillas; Varane, Ramos, Pepe, Essien; Alonso, Modric; Ozil, Kaka, Cristiano; Higuain.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today's Liga clash between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo. My name, so they tell me, is Daniel Edwards and I'll be with you until the bitter end today, sharing the action, my thoughts and a few of yours' as well. If you want to get involved, send your musings to @Goal_Intl on twitter.
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