Real Madrid opens Spanish league with 3-1 win over Celta

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Karim Benzema scored a goal and set up another as Real Madrid began its Spanish league campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Toni Kroos and Lucas Vázquez also scored, as Madrid played most of the second half with 10 men following a red card to Luka Modric.

Madrid was without new signing Eden Hazard because of an injury, and it was Gareth Bale - who many thought would be gone from the squad by now - who helped add the spark Madrid needed.

Madrid’s attempts to transfer Bale failed and coach Zinedine Zidane started the Wales forward at Balaídos Stadium. He was the team’s best player in the first half, setting up Benzema’s opening goal in the 12th minute with a perfectly timed low cross in front of the goal.

It was Madrid’s first away win since Zidane returned as coach late last season.

The Spanish powerhouse is trying to rebound from one of its worst campaigns in decades, when it was out of title contention several weeks before the end of last season.

“It was important to get off to a good start,” Zidane said. “I’m happy with what I’ve seen today. It was great to get the three points in a difficult away match like this. We leave with a good feeling.”

Celta thought it equalized just before halftime, but the goal by Brais Méndez after a defensive mistake by Real Madrid defender Álvaro Odriozola was called off for offside after video review.

Iago Aspas came closest to scoring for Celta. The Spain striker was key last season as Vigo barely escaped relegation.

Modric was sent off after video review showed he fouled an opponent from behind.

Five minutes later, Kroos added to Madrid’s lead with a superb long-range shot into the top corner.

Substitute Vázquez sealed the victory in the 80th after a pass by Benzema following a nifty spin move by the French striker outside the area.

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