Real Madrid battled over a hostile environment and the injury to Karim Benzema to start their Champions League defense with a merciless 3-0 victory at Celtic.
The record-extending 15th European Cup run of Los Blancos was put on hold when star scorer Karim Benzema suffered a knee injury 30 minutes into Tuesday’s opening.
At that point, Callum McGregor had already hit the post for Celtic, who were now back in the group stage after a four-season absence. Celtic also continued to pose problems for their opponents. But like they did so frequently last season, Madrid found a way, as evidenced by quick goals from Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric, after which Eden Hazard brilliantly added a third.
In a spirited first half hour for the hosts at a rowdy Celtic Park, Liel Abada and Reo Hatate both questioned Thibaut Courtois.
When McGregor was found by Giorgos Giakoumakis, Ange Postecoglou’s team came even closer to scoring when he fired a left-footed shot against the goal’s frame. Soon after, Madrid lost Benzema to injury, but if Joe Hart had not stopped Vinicius from beating him one-on-one, Madrid would have taken the lead at the break.
The visitors scored their first goal 11 minutes into the second half after surviving another scare when replacement Daizen Maeda missed a close-range attempt at Courtois.
At the end of a quick assault, Federico Valverde found Vinicius with a beautiful pass into the middle of the box, and the striker calmly finished past Hart with a first-time effort.
Four minutes later, Madrid scored again as Modric, who was making his 100th appearance for the team in the competition, nudged the ball past Hart and finished with the outside of the foot.
From that point on, everything went well, and Hazard, who had been substituted for Benzema, added a third goal from close range at the conclusion of a superb team move.
Watch the match highlights below.