Benzema, Vinicius Jr. 9/10 in Real Madrid comeback win

Karim Benzema grabbed a hat trick, Vinicius Junior impressed and Eduardo Camavinga scored on his debut as Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 5-2 in a thrilling first game back at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Santi Mina put the visitors ahead with just three minutes played after left-back Miguel Gutierrez gave the ball away. Vinicius went closest to levelling, seeing a header saved and a shot deflected over the bar, while Iago Aspas could have doubled Celta’s lead. Karim Benzema equalised, turning home Fede Valverde’s cross, and Franco Cervi put Celta back in front with a clever improvised finish in a frantic first half.

After the break, it was all Madrid. Benzema made it 2-2 with a header from Gutierrez’s pinpoint cross, and then the France forward played in Vinicius, who took his time with a calm finish to put Madrid ahead for the first time in the match. Camavinga came off the bench to score after Luka Modric‘s initial effort was saved, and then Benzema secured the three points from the penalty spot after Vinicius was brought down.

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Positives

Once again Vinicius looked the Real Madrid player most likely to make something happen, as he did with Madrid’s crucial third goal. His celebration — jumping into the crowd to celebrate — wasn’t particularly wise given the circumstances, but he can be forgiven for that, given a display that saw him a constant menace down the left. His decision-making is improving, and his raw pace is as exciting as ever. The Brazilian looks to be becoming the player he was meant to be. It’s no exaggeration to suggest he’s been one of LaLiga’s best so far this season.

There was something different about Eden Hazard here, too. The Belgian has endured two desperately disappointing seasons at the Bernabeu, but he finally appears to trust his body again, and the burst which enables him to get away from a defender — feared lost forever — has returned. He needs to put together a series of these performances now.

Negatives

Real Madrid were unsettled time and time again here by Celta’s aggressive high press. That led to the opening goal, when youngster Gutierrez was hurried into turning over possession, and there were more opportunities for Aspas and Mina in the first half as well. It wasn’t just about pressing, either. On more than one occasion Celta were able to slice through Real Madrid’s midfield with quick combinations of short and long-range passing. There’s plenty of work for Carlo Ancelotti to do, both in and out of possession.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Carlo Ancelotti picked Gutierrez ahead of the veteran Marcelo at left-back and went for Vinicius to replace the injured Gareth Bale. Both decisions looked correct — Gutierrez is an outstanding prospect — and doubts raised when the youngster cost his side the opening goal were quietened by his subsequent mature display. At 2-1 down, Ancelotti resisted the temptation to make early changes, backing the starters to sort out their own mess — and he was rewarded when Vinicius scored the winner. The decision to give Camavinga some minutes paid off too.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 — Beaten comfortably for both of Celta’s goals.

DF Dani Carvajal, 6 — Could have been punished for carelessly giving the ball away with 20 minutes gone. Competed as fiercely as ever but doesn’t look quite 100% yet.

DF Nacho, 6 — The defence was badly exposed here by a mobile Celta attack. For all his experience, Nacho isn’t quite as convincing as the leader of Real Madrid’s back line should be.

DF Eder Militao, 6 — Played 90 minutes for Brazil early on Friday morning and at times looked like he was still suffering from jet lag here.

DF Miguel Gutierrez, 7 — His mistake cost Madrid the opener, but made up for it with an assist to make it 2-2. Might just be Madrid’s first-choice left-back by the end of this season.

MF Casemiro, 6 — Rushed back from international duty along with Militao. Looked a fraction slower than usual, caught out at times by Celta’s quick passing and movement.

MF Fede Valverde, 8 — Played on the right of midfield, pushing up frequently, and did well. Set up Benzema to make it 1-1.

MF Luka Modric, 8 — Played a little deeper than usual alongside Casemiro in the absence of Toni Kroos. One wickedly dangerous early free kick. His burst forward allowed Camavinga to open his account.

FW Eden Hazard, 7 — Played off Benzema. Looks quicker and more confident, backing himself to receive the ball under pressure and turn away from danger. Encouraging signs.

FW Vinicius Junior, 9 — Keeps getting better. Could have scored with an early header, ran constantly at the Celta defence and showed great composure to net the winner. Looks to have raised his game again, building on the progress made last season.

FW Karim Benzema, 9 — Scored three times, making it five goals for the season. Grabbed his fourth assist of the campaign too. Now a genuine leader for this team.

Substitutes

MF Eduardo Camavinga, 8 — Came on for the last 25 minutes to a huge ovation and showed flashes of quality before netting a close-range fourth.

FW Marco Asensio, NR — Replaced Modric in the closing stages.

FW Rodrygo, NR — Played the last few minutes.

DF Marcelo, NR — Brought on for Miguel at 5-2.