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Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid: Holders begin with victory after losing Benzema to injury

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Real Madrid survived a hostile reception and the loss of Karim Benzema to injury as they dug deep to begin their Champions League defence with a ruthless 3-0 win at Celtic.

Los Blancos’ quest for a record-extending 15th European Cup got off to a bad start when losing star striker Benzema to a knee injury with 30 minutes played of Tuesday’s opener.

Celtic had already struck the post through Callum McGregor at that point and continued to trouble their opponents on their return to the group stage after four seasons away.

But as they so often did last season, Madrid found a way thanks to quickfire goals from Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric, which Eden Hazard added to with a brilliant third.

Liel Abada and Reo Hatate had both asked questions of Thibaut Courtois in a lively opening half an hour for the hosts at a raucous Celtic Park.

Ange Postecoglou’s side went even closer to scoring when McGregor was picked out by Giorgos Giakoumakis and unleashed a left-footed strike against the frame of the goal.

Madrid lost Benzema to injury soon after but would have been ahead before half-time had Joe Hart not denied Vinicius from a one-on-one.

The visitors, having survived another let-off when substitute Daizen Maeda scuffed a shot at Courtois from close range, opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second half.

Federico Valverde found Vinicius with a lovely ball into the centre of the box at the end of a swift attack, and the forward coolly picked his spot past Hart with a first-time finish.

Madrid had a second four minutes later as Modric, making his 100th appearance for the club in the competition, prodded past Hart with an outside-of-the-boot finish.

It was plain sailing from that point on, and Hazard – the man brought on for Benzema – added a third from close range after some smart play from Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal at the end of a fine team move.

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