Éder Militão and Marco Asensio both scored for Real Madrid in what was a relatively smooth outing for Los Blancos.
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Real Madrid eased past Celta de Vigo 2-0 on Saturday in what was a relatively calm and assured performance for Los Blancos to cut Barcelona’s lead atop La Liga to eight points ahead of Atlético Madrid’s visit to the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Goals from Marco Asensio and Éder Militão sealed the win in the first of Real’s run of three La Liga games before the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna on May 6 and the first leg of the Champions League semifinals against Manchester City on May 9.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – MAY 01: A general view of the tifo display before the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Barcelona and Liverpool at the Nou Camp on May 01, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.
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Boasting a few lineup changes following their win against Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals – Madrid trotted out Asensio, Dani Ceballos, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Antonio Rüdiger and Nacho from kick-off – the Merengues dominated possession throughout, but couldn’t find the target throughout much of the first half.
Celta never really threatened in the first half and the deadlock was broken in the 42nd minute when Ceballos made a brilliant through pass down the left side to Vinícius Jr. who made a single touch into the box before crossing the ball to an incoming Asensio, who thumped the ball with his left foot past Celta keeper Iván Villar.
Vinícius Jr. proved a dangerous threat to Celta throughout the match, including getting his 17th assist of the season across all competitions.
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The 1-0 marked Asensio’s 11th goal of the season in all competitions and Vinícius’ 17th assist across all competitions.
Real kept the pace up after half-time, looking for the two-goal cushion that would allow it to lift its foot off the pedal – and it wouldn’t have to wait long.
In the 48th minute, Asensio took a great corner into the area, where an on-rushing Militão powered a header into the bottom left corner for his fifth league goal of the season past a helpless Villar.
Madrid could have added to the tally, with Vinícius proving a constant danger on the left side with his speed and passing into threatening areas, but failed to convert several chances.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, left, pauses at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Southampton at Emirates stadium in London, Friday, April 21, 2023.
It wasn’t until the 77th minute that Celta provided any danger to Thibaut Courtois and the Madrid defense; Celta midfielder Oscar threaded the ball past Rüdiger and Nacho in the Madrid backline to Iago Aspas, who used his strength to keep Nacho at bay and force a magnificent 1-on-1 save from Courtois.
The Madrid keeper has proven with his performances over the last two years that he is one of the best goalkeepers, if not players, in the world, and he was caught reprimanding his defense following another dangerous Celta attack just one minute on from the Aspas save.
Militão puts his powerful header into the bottom left corner of the net to make it 2-0.
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But there was to be no cheering from the Celta fans in attendance with only the choruses of madridistas celebrating and chanting the names of several players on the night, including Nacho, Ceballos and Luka Modrić – who subbed on in the 81st minute to help steady the wheel for the remaining minutes of the contest.
“I think the atmosphere around us helps out a lot, it helps us to give 100% – and even more sometimes. Because of that, I think all the players appreciate and thank this fan base, which always shows us love,” Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said after the match.
Madrid faces Girona next in La Liga on Tuesday at the Estadi Montilivi.