|Cristiano Ronaldo and Higuain scored against Celta|
Real Madrid returned to the Bernabeu 20 days after their last match at home against Deportivo, and did so with Ramos and Essien on the wing, Modric and Alonso controlling the match in midfield, an in-form Kaká (two goals in the two matches he played for Brazil) behind the striker and Higuaín up front. It was the Argentine who opened the scoring in the eleventh minute with a cross-come-shot form the left wing that surprised Sergio, sailing over his head. It was not the Whites’ first chance; Ronaldo had an opportunity in the second minute, Kaká, two minutes later, and Ramos in the fifth minute had previously attempted to put their team ahead.
“We need to win because we can’t afford to lose points”, commented Mourinho in the press room the day before the match. His players demonstrated this on the pitch Not only because after barely ten minutes had they taken the lead, but also because of the passion they showed to win the ball back from their opponents and how they went after the second goal, which could have come at the midway point of the first half, but Ronaldo’s header from a Higuaín cross went wide from the goal mouth in the twenty-third minute.
The home side’s dominance did not flummox the team from Galicia that was well set out defensively and even attempted to surprise the Whites on the counter attack, with Iago Aspas as their most advanced player. It was the reserve team player that took the visitor’s first shot on goal in the twenty-sixth minute, but Casillas, who was very watchful, stopped his finish with a beautiful stretching save. Ronaldo, once again very active, replicated the visiting side’s effort twelve minutes later in what was to be the final action of the first half. Alonso and Modric combined and the Portuguese, in the penalty arc, lifted the ball off the ground and immediately struck it without letting it touch the ground in an attempt to squeeze the ball past Sergio. Only the crossbar prevented the work of art from increasing the scoreboard.
Mourinho looked for greater width after the break, deciding to bring on Di María for Kaká. Celta showed themselves to be brave and brought up their defensive lines. The change made by their coach in the fifty-second minute corroborated this; Mario Bermejo was brought on for Bustos. Paco Herrera brought on a forward to play alongside Aspas up front, replacing a midfielder. Then Park, the home side’s only international player, came on for the reserve team player six minutes later.
Despite this, the opportunities continued to fall to the home side. Ramos, with a volley, had the first chance, but his shot went very high over the bar from Ronaldo’s precise pass in the fifty-eighth minute. The Portuguese player also had a chance to score after a great cross from Essien, although his header from inside the area once again went wide. The second goal belonged to the Portuguese player, being scored in the sixty-seventh minute. Özil was clearly brought down by Cabral inside the area and Ronaldo, with an astonishing calmness, converted the penalty. It was his eleventh goal in his team’s last six matches.
The goal saw the few chances that Celta had dry up and sealed a hard-fought victory against a brave team that was well set out defensively. Real Madrid, therefore, completed their fifth consecutive victory at home, Ronaldo scored in his sixth consecutive game and Casillas, who made three great stops at the end of the clash and was given an ovation by the fans, kept a clean sheet. This is the best possible news before facing Borussia in the Champions League on Wednesday in Dortmund.
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Goals: 1-0, m.11: Higuain. 2-0, m.67: Cristiano Ronaldo (pen).