Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid – Real Madrid welcomed Celta Vigo with everything to play for in this La Liga round of 24 tie. With the current season being the closest in recent memory there was no room for error for Los Blancos and with Celta also looking to turn their disappointing season around, there was all to play for.
But it didn’t take too long for something to give and it was Celta who took the lead through debutant Fedor Smolov. Iago Aspas received the ball just past the center circle and immediately sent Smolov through on goal and the Russian forward slotted past a helpless Thibaut Courtois to make it one-nil.
Casemiro did come close with a 16th-minute effort that just whistled above the crossbar and for most of the first half Madrid did control proceedings but often struggled to find that final pass. Celta should have added a second goal but for some fine goalkeeping from Courtois to deny the Ghanaian Joseph Aidoo’s well timed header from a corner kick. But Celta did just enough to take that lead into half time.
Real Madrid came out in the second half with a bit more urgency and did score immediately through Sergio Ramos on 48 minutes, only for it to be correctly ruled out for offside but that would have given Los Blancos fans some encouragement. It didn’t take long for the home side to draw level though as Toni Kroos found the net on the 51st minute from a Marcelo cut back inside the box.
Real Madrid would take the lead in the 64th minute after Eden Hazard was brought down by Celta’s goalie Ruben Blanco and Sergio Ramos stepped up and dispatched the resulting penalty. Gareth Bale should have seen red on 71 minutes for a dangerous tackle on Rafinha but the referee instead showed yellow.
Now with the game wide open, both teams took turns pouring forward in search of more advantage but it was Celta Vigo who found the equalizer as substitute Dennis Suarez setting up his fellow substitute Santi Mina who placed the ball past Courtois.
Real had a few decent chances towards the end but Karim Benzema failed to convert on two separate occasions. For Celta Vigo this was one point won but for Madridistas, this will feel like two points dropped on the day and the La Liga title race continues to heat on.