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2022-23 UEFA Champions League, Group Stage
  • Vinícius Júnior (56')
  • Luka Modric (60')
  • Eden Hazard (77')

Real Madrid beat Celtic 3-0 to start Champions League title defence

Real Madrid overcame an impressive Celtic performance to start the defence of their Champions League crown with an eventually comfortable 3-0 victory at Celtic Park, Glasgow, on Tuesday.

After Celtic endured a series of near-misses, Madrid made their hosts pay with goals from Vinicius Junior, Luka Modric and Eden Hazard in the second half of the Group F encounter.

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Madrid's night was tarnished, though, by an injury to key striker Karim Benzema that saw the France international forced off the field, seemingly pointing to his knee, after 30 minutes. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti later said the injury "doesn't seem very serious."

Benzema's injury was not the only thing that troubled Madrid in an action-packed first 45 minutes in front of a raucous home crowd.

Celtic gave Madrid all they could handle in the first half, with the visitors struggling to get to grips with the Scottish champions' intensity both with their pressing and the speed of their counter-attacks.

"We didn't expect an easy game at all, they won 4-0 against Rangers, the Europa League finalist, over the weekend. They are at a great moment as a team," Toni Kroos told Movistar Plus.

"We needed to be patient, keep calm and wait for the right opportunities to come. Our experience played a major role."

The hosts could have been in front inside a minute but Liel Abada's shot deflected behind off Eder Militao. Another chance for Abada, who this time shot tamely straight at Thibaut Courtois, soon followed before Celtic captain Callum McGregor drilled a shot off the inside of the post from the edge of the area.

Madrid had opportunities, too, as the half wore on. Hazard, on in place of Benzema, should have done better when miscuing a shot wide of the target before setting up Vinicius for a shot that was well blocked by Joe Hart in the Celtic goal.

The clearest Celtic chance fell right at the start of the second half but, just moments after coming on at half-time, Daizen Maeda fluffed his lines in front of goal.

And Celtic were soon made to pay. With 56 minutes on the clock, Federico Valverde put in an inviting low cross from the right and Vinicius arrived at the back post for a composed finish.

Four minutes later the lead was doubled. Hazard showed glimpses of his best with a run through midfield before finding Modric, who stepped inside a defender and poked the ball past Hart.

Hazard then got himself on the scoresheet with 13 minutes remaining as Celtic's resistance faded and the Belgian was given the simple task to tap home from Dani Carvajal's cut-back.