Resurgent Real maintain winning run under Solari at Celta
VIGO (Reuters): Real Madrid notched a fourth straight win under interim coach Santiago Solari by winning 4-2 at Celta Vigo on Sunday to move to within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Karim Benzema gave the European champions the lead in the 20th minute with an irresistible piece of control and finish after a pinpoint pass from Luka Modric.
The Frenchman was then instrumental in doubling the lead early in the second half, firing a shot which squirmed under goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez and over the line off Celta defender Gustavo Cabral.
Real’s lead was far from comfortable, though, and Hugo Mallo pulled the home side back into the game with a well-taken volley on the hour mark which preceded a spell of heavy pressure from Celta.
Madrid managed to ride it out and killed the game off as a contest with a late ‘Panenka’ penalty from Captain Sergio Ramos and a thunderous strike from Dani Ceballos in stoppage time, although Brais Mendez struck a late consolation goal for Celta.
While Real have yet to make a marked improvement in overall performances under former midfielder Solari, they have enjoyed far better fortunes than in the final weeks under Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked two weeks ago after the humiliating 5-1 defeat to Barcelona.
That loss left Real seven points adrift of Barca but the win over Celta saw them climb to sixth on 20 points from 12 matches in a jam-packed La Liga table, closing the gap after the leaders were left on 24 points with their 4-3 home defeat by Real Betis.