Real start 2021 with bang
Real Madrid opened the new year with a flourish as goals from Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio paved the way for a 2-0 victory over Celta de Vigo on Saturday night at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in Madrid.
Los Blancos struck early through Lucas Vazquez off an Asensio cross after Celta had missed out on their best chance of the night, before Asensio's fine finish after the re-start made for a relatively easy second stanza.
With captain Sergio Ramos out, coach Zinedine Zidane shifted Nacho into the centre-back role, while Ferland Mendy came in for Marcelo at left-back. Otherwise, it was the same players who took the pitch to start at Elche last Wednesday.
There was plenty of action early on, first beginning with Celta spoiling a chance in which Nolito perfectly picked out Iago Aspas, only to see the latter's shot cleared in front of the goal-line by Nacho.
That led to a counter-attack and in clinical fashion Real Mardid were able to take a 1-0 lead when Marco Asensio floated a cross to Lucas Vazquez, who smacked a header into net.
Despite the one-goal deficit, the new-look Celta under boss Chacho Coudet stayed true to its newfound style of trying to impose their will on opponents, however, it was the home side that almost scored the next goal, with Dani Carvajal's right-footed volley bouncing wide right before half time.
Celta's chances of getting back on level terms received a big blow early in the second half when a Murillo pass was intercepted by Luka Modric, leading to a quick Real break and an easy finish into net for Asensio to make it 2-0.
With the two-goal advantage and injuries to Celta dangerman Aspas and Nolito, Real were in full control and Karim Benzema should have made it three, but instead scuffed a shot wide of the far post.
It wasn't until a quarter-hour to go before Zidane made his first change, with Asensio leaving and Eden Hazard getting a crack at things. Minutes later it was Fede Valverde, Vinicius and Martin Odegaard who were brought on for Toni Kroos, Carvajal and Modric, respectively.
With the exception of a last-gasp Celta flurry though, Real Madrid saw things out to pocket their first three points of 2021.