Without a win in their last two Champions League games, Los Blancos needed a positive result to progress as group winners ahead of RB Leipzig. A goal each from Luka Modric, Rodrygo, Marco Asensio, Vinicius Junior, and Federico Valverde ensured that the Whites didn’t have to rely on Leipzig’s result to win their group. Jota scored the only goal for Celtic on Wednesday night.
Real Madrid started the game brightly and won a penalty after only five minutes of play. After Celtic keeper Joe Hart saved Rodrygo’s shot, Valverde followed through with the rebound. The Uruguayan’s shot bounced off the ground and hit Moritz Jenz’s outstretched arm, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Modric sent Hart the wrong way from the spot to put Real Madrid ahead.
In the 19th minute, Vinicius Junior looked destined to double Madrid’s lead with a tap-in at the far post, but Hart made himself big and blocked the Brazil international’s shot. Unfortunately for him, his team conceded a second penalty the following minute, once again due to handball. Rodrygo took the second penalty, sending Hart the wrong way to double his team’s advantage.
Before the half-hour mark, Los Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was called into action a couple of times, with Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi trying their luck. Their shots were comfortably collected by Courtois.
In the 33rd minute, Ferland Mendy committed a foul on Liel Abada, compelling the referee to award a penalty to Celtic. Josip Juranovic stepped up for it but his effort was not good enough to beat Courtois.
Asensio and Vinicius Junior scored two good goals inside the first 15 minutes of the second half, sending Madrid 4-0 up. Celtic striker Georgios Giakoumakis and Hatate drew two saves out of Courtois before Valverde scored the fifth goal of the game in the 71st minute.
Celtic’s best moment of the match came in the 84th minute when Portuguese sensation Jota dispatched a curling free kick to beat Courtois. The Scottish side, who finished last in Group F with two points, pushed to add another in the final moments, but the hosts expertly neutralized their threat.
Here are five Real Madrid players who stood out in their 5-1 win over Celtic on Wednesday:
#5 Vinicius Junior
Los Blancos’ poster boy Vinicius Junior did not have an easy night on Wednesday. Celtic overloaded their right flank more often than not to keep a lid on the left winger, and were successful on multiple occasions.
The Brazilian, however, was not one to be disheartened by the visitors’ resolve. He ultimately got his goal in the 61st minute, timing his run superbly to beat his man and apply the finishing touch to Valverde’s cross. The goal aside, Vinicius Junior played two key passes, won three of four ground duels, and completed two dribbles.
#4 Luka Modric
The most experienced Real Madrid player on Wednesday's pitch, Luka Modric, was at his brilliant best against the Scottish outfit. The Croatian stretched the game with his long balls, dictated the tempo with his passes, fulfilled defensive responsibilities, and scored Madrid’s opening goal from the spot.
The former Tottenham Hotspur central midfielder delivered six accurate long balls, completed 69 passes (89.6% accuracy), and won two of three duels on Wednesday night. Dani Ceballos replaced the Croat in the 66th minute.
#3 Thibaut Courtois
Although the scoreline suggests otherwise, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was busier than Celtic keeper Hart on Wednesday. His most memorable save of the night came in the 35th minute when he denied Josip Juranovic from the spot.
The Celtic man went for power over placement, aiming for the right side of Courtois’ net. The Los Merengues keeper read the direction of the shot and made a strong save with his right hand. Courtois made a total of seven saves on Wednesday, including three from inside the box. He also played 29 accurate passes (85.3% accuracy) and accurately delivered three long balls.
#2 Marco Asensio
Getting a rare start in Karim Benzema’s absence, Marco Asensio produced a performance to remember. His distribution was extraordinary, he created one chance after another, and scored a neat goal in the 51st minute to triple his team’s lead.
He dashed into the box from the right side, connected superbly with Carvajal’s offload, and guided it past the helpless Hart. The Spain international also played a game-high five key passes, completed 64 passes (94% accuracy), delivered two accurate long balls, and made three interceptions. It was easily Asensio’s best performance of the 2022-23 campaign.
#1 Federico Valverde
The most in-form Real Madrid player at the moment, Federico Valverde, was like a livewire on the Santiago Bernabeu pitch on Wednesday. He made strong runs, always tracked back, scored a superb long-ranger, and claimed an assist.
In the 61st minute, Valverde found himself in possession on the right side of Celtic’s goal. He spotted Vinicius Junior’s run and delivered a low cross into the area. The Brazilian winger gently tucked it home to quadruple his side's advantage. Ten minutes after assisting Vinicius Junior, Valverde got on the scoresheet himself, scoring a side-footed screamer from outside the box.
In addition to two goal involvements, Valverde made four key passes, delivered three accurate crosses, and created a big chance. He also made three interceptions, attempted a tackle, and won a ground duel.