Celta Vigo 2 - 1 Real Madrid (Spanish Cup, Last 16 1st Leg)

Real Madrid and Celta Vigo will play for a spot in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) on 9th January at the Santiago Bernabeu. The tie will be decided in the Whites’ fortress following the match at Balaidos, which the home team won 2-1 thanks to goals from Bermejo and Bustos, and to which Cristiano Ronaldo replied in the 86th minute. In a match without a clearly dominant team, all of the goals came in the second half, following a first 45 minutes in which Celta did not have a shot on goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo fighting against a Celta player
Cristiano Ronaldo fought against the entire Celta team

Real Madrid went on to the field at Balaidos with Adan, Varane, Carvalho, Essien, Modric and Di Maria as the changes to the starting line-up. The Argentine was the player who had the first chance in the 1st minute with a long range shot following a nice piece of team play on the edge of the area. Celta tried to play the ball out of defence and Real Madrid pressed forward to try to win the ball. Essien had the second chance to try to surprise Sergio from distance after he himself stole the ball. Both teams looked to dominate the match but did not manage to impose themselves on their opponents.

Cristiano Ronaldo was amongst the most involved of Mourinho’s team in the first half. A good move from the Portuguese on the right in the 15th minute and a subsequent cross to the centre of the area was narrowly missed by Modric. Celta, on the counter attack, had their first opportunity with an Aspas cross from the left which Park put wide of the far post. On the half hour mark the Real Madrid coach had to bring on Callejon for Benzema (32') because of an injury to the Frenchman, and shortly after coming on the academy player shot against the post but it would not have counted as it was given as offside.

The home team pushed their lines forward in the closing stages of the first half and the connection between Aspas and Park produced chances for Celta. In the 38th minute Aspas found the Korean in the area but he failed to control the ball and in 40th minute a cross from Galician from the right was put wide by Park at the far post. Celta had three consecutive corners immediately before the end of the half.

Özil came on for Di Maria after the break, but the match continued in the same vein that the first half had finished with Vigo set up with their lines very high up the field and they won two corners in the opening two minutes. Ronaldo kept trying to create chances for his team, with long balls into the box but could not find anyone to put them away. A ball won in midfield by the home team in the 56th minute produced the match’s first goal. Krohn-Dehli crossed from the left which went through the middle of the area before Mario Bermejo put a low shot past Adan at the far post.

Mourinho reacted by bringing on Kaka for Essien in the 65th minute. With the three changes already made, Varane received a knock and ended up playing at centre forward. Özil played between the lines and that is how the Whites went looking for the reply. Modric could have scored following an Alonso ball into the box, but Sergio made a good stop down low. Celta were looking to hit Real Madrid on the break and following an Augusto long range shot in the 72nd which was stopped by Adan the same player went on to score the second goal in the 78th minute. Celta put pressure on a Whites throw-in in their own half and the ball fell to Bustos, who made it 2-0 with a shot from outside of the box which the Real Madrid goalkeeper could not have done anything about.

Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s best player, kept trying to create chances. In the 81st minute he shot from outside the box but it was saved by the ‘keeper and a minute later one of his crosses from the right went straight into Sergio’s hands. The third chance went passed him in the 86th minute following a great looping pass from Xabi Alonso into space which he finished with quality with his left foot. Alonso looked for Cristiano again in the 88th minute but he was given offside when he didn’t look to be and in the 91st minute Modric tried his luck from outside the area but Sergio pushed the ball wide for a corner.


Stadium: Balaidos
Attendance: 30,000
Goals: 1-0. m.55: Bermejo; 2-0. m.78: Bustos; 2-1. m.86: Cristiano Ronaldo.


Valladolid 2 - 3 Real Madrid (Spanish League, Day 15)

Real Madrid showed courage in Valladolid and got their fourth consecutive win after turning around the scoreboard against a highly motivated team that had put themselves in front on the scoreboard twice in front of a home crowd euphoric with their team’s season so far. Manucho put the home team ahead twice from set pieces, while Benzema, in the first instance, and Özil, with a masterpiece on the stroke of halftime, levelled the match. The visitors’ dominance was overwhelming in the second half and the Whites, who ended up taking off to defenders to bring on Di María and Modric, took the win through an Özil free-kick. The German had a spectacular match and led his team with two goals worthy of framing.

Özil scored a great and important victory goal

The match could not have started worse for Real Madrid. Within seven minutes the scoreboard was against the Whites and they had to make an extra effort to make the comeback in a stadium where Valladolid have only lost once in the eight official matches that they have played there. Valladolid’s goal came in their first jaunt into Casillas’ area. Alvaro Rubio’s corner lead to a series of ricochets in the area before Manucho put the ball into the net from close range.

They needed to make a comeback and the Whites got to work to bring things level on the scoreboard. It only took five minutes to do. Callejon, who along with Nacho were the changes to starting line-up, was very attentive and stole the ball from Balenziaga. He drew in the goalkeeper Dani Hernández and played a square ball to Benzema, who only had to push the ball home. The match was level once again, but it felt like it was going to be short-lived and after the two subsequent Real Madrid chances that fell to Khedira in the 17th minute and Ronaldo, from a free-kick, in the 19th minute they came close to going ahead themselves.

In spite of that, it was Valladolid who again went ahead in a move that was very similar to the first goal of the match. Valladolid’s second corner and Manucho’s second shot that had ended up in the net, this time from a header in the 22nd minute. It was more than the home team deserved for what they had shown in the match so far, who had found refuge in their set pieces, and it made it even more difficult for Real Madrid to get their fourth straight victory against a highly motivated team that had twice gone ahead on the scoreboard and were playing in front of a home crowd that were euphoric with their team’s season so far and understood the significance of what their team were achieving.

Except for an Ebert free-kick, which troubled Casillas, Valladolid did not get back into the visitors’ area during the first half. Real Madrid, however, continued to play well and tried to go in to the dressing room with the match at least all square. The Whites created up to four dangerous scoring chances before Özil scored the second just before the break. The move that produced it was a masterpiece. The German received the ball on the edge of the area, went passed two opponents by combining with Benzema, who laid off back to him with a back heel, before he placed the ball between the legs of Dani Hernández. 2-2 and all to be played for in the remaining 45 minutes.

The evidence that Real Madrid were going to fight for the win until exhaustion was irrefutable and increased further after the break. A brave Mourinho brought on Di Maria and took off Nacho. The Whites dominated and when they didn’t have the ball and they were biting at the heels of Valladolid and didn’t give them a moment to breathe which resulted in the home team not being able to string together more than three passes. Perhaps that is why the scoring chances all came in the home team’s area. Ramos, from a header in the 50th minute, Benzema, from the edge of the box in the 52nd minute, and Ronaldo, also from outside of the area in 55th minute, were the creators.

If anything was on show from Real Madrid it was bravery. Mourinho personified that as much as anyone and removed another defender, specifically Arbeloa, to put on another midfielder: Modric. The match had become end-to-end and Real Madrid kept going for the win. Di María, in the 63rd minute, had a one-on-one with Dani Hernandez, but the goalkeeper came out on top. Ramos did beat him two minutes later, but Pérez Montero incorrectly ruled out the visitors' goal for offside.

The comeback was completed in the 72nd minute in the same manner that both of the home team’s goals had come: from dead balls. It came from a free-kick on the edge of the area that Ronaldo feinted to shoot and Özil hit the ball in such a subtle and precise way, hitting the crossbar that it meant that the outstretched Valladolid goalkeeper could do get now where near. The German had a match worth framing and led his team to their fourth straight win and third in the month of December in which the Whites have won every match that they have played.


Stadium: Jose Zorrilla
Attendance: 25,000
Goals: 1-0: Min. 6, Manucho. 1-1: Min. 11, Benzema. 2-1: Min. 21, Manucho. 2-2: Min. 44, Özil. 2-3: Min. 71. Özil.
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