Real Madrid vs Celtic
Celtic's disappointing run in the Champions League came to an end in a gloomy fashion as Real Madrid claimed victory and topped Group F.
After 21 minutes, the Scottish champions were already behind 2-0 after penalties from Luka Modric and Rodrygo.
Even though Jota scored a late free kick, the rout for the defending champions was all but assured after Marco Asensio, Vinicius Junior, and Federico Valverde scored for Real Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti's side turned on the style in the second half against an increasingly tired and open Celtic, who finish bottom of the section with two points and no wins in their six matches.
However, with this victory ensuring first place in the group, Real will continue their quest for a 15th European championship.
Even though Celtic only had two points after five games, their fans still made the trip to the Bernabeu in the hopes of seeing a result, and it appeared that many more than the official 1,848 were inside the stadium.
With only four minutes left on the clock, the wind was knocked out of their sails. Moritz Jenz handled the ball after getting himself into a bad twist while attempting to block Valverde's easy shot. Modric showed his customary coolness to slot home.
The foreigners reacted positively, creating opportunities for Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate, but they weren't good enough to test Thibaut Courtois in the Real goal.
In fact, the trouble was about to deepen for Celtic. Though not as obviously as with Jenz, Rodrygo's strike struck Matt O'Riley's arm with the same result. For once, Rodrygo was able to put away the penalty.
In the first half, Real threatened to run away with it, and Vinicius missed an absolute sitter a minute later.
The Celtic offense had to push up the field, and it paid off when Hatate was stripped of the ball by Daizan Maeda, allowing Kyogo to score. Courtois, however, kept his composure and easily blocked Hatate's subsequent piledriver from outside the ring.
And then Celtic had a massive opportunity. Ferland Mendy committed a foul to prevent Liel Abada's advance to the bye-line. It was the third penalty of a wild first half, but Courtois saved the day for the Belgians by pushing away Juranovic's penalty kick to his right.
Real scored their third goal just six minutes after halftime, eliminating any remaining doubt. Asensio scored the go-ahead goal against Joe Hart after Dani Carvajal's sneaky run to the byline and slick cross.
Vinicius scored another, beating Carl Starfelt to a Valverde cross and tapping it in before Real called on Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema off the bench.
The Madridistas were having a good time before Valverde added to it by curling a beautiful effort past Hart and into the net, further aggravating the situation for the visiting team.
The Celtic faithful could be forgiven for wanting the game to end, but Jota gave them reason to celebrate with a beautiful free kick he curled past Courtois.
It was a great moment for the Portuguese winger, and it gave the away fans something to cheer about, but it was little more than a consolation on a night when the disparity between the Scottish and European champions was exposed.
Most Valuable Player: Federico Valverde
Fede Real Madrid's Valverde scores the game-winning goal against Celtic.
The best of Real's five goals was scored by Valdverde, and he also contributed significantly to the team's most noteworthy plays.
Analyzing the possibilities for wasteful Celtic:
With this Champions League run, the question was whether or not Celtic's relentless attacking style would be able to keep up with Europe's best. With just two points out of a possible 18 in six group games, four goals scored, and fifteen allowed, it's safe to assume that they won't.
There isn't much to show for a team that many fans thought had a shot at making the big leagues.
But Celtic have been competitive for stretches in every match, and if they had scored on a few more of their many chances, they might have won a few of those games.
There are a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes in this statement. The three teams Celtic faced in Madrid would argue that they, too, had numerous opportunities beyond the ones they converted.
Many of Ange Postecoglou's players have not looked out of place in the club's first group-stage appearance in five years, but the club lacks the quality to convert opportunities missed into points.
Statistics from the Game
For the first time since the 2015–16 season, when Real won the Champions League, they have won all three of their home matches in the group stage.
Celtic have lost all six of their matches against Spanish teams in the Champions League, scoring only two goals while giving up 24.
Three years in a row (2020-21 through 2022-23) is the first time since 2013-14 through 2015-16 that Real has finished first in its Champions League group.
After 20 minutes and 47 seconds of play, Celtic gave up two penalty goals to Real Madrid, the earliest a side has ever given up two penalty goals in a Champions League match.
Carlo Ancelotti, coach of Real, won the Champions League for the 102nd time on Saturday, tying Sir Alex Ferguson for the most victories by a manager in the tournament's history.
Modric scored for Roma against CSKA Moscow at the age of 37 years and 54 days, making him the oldest scorer in the Champions League since Francesco Totti in November 2014. (38y 59d).
To put Modric's 37 years and 54 days in perspective, the oldest Real Madrid players to score in the European Cup/Champions League were Ferenc Puskas in 1965 (38 years and 173 days old) and Alfredo Di Stefano in 1964 (37 years and 0 months) (37y 308d).
So, now what?
Celtic's season in Europe is over, so they host Dundee United this Saturday (15:00 GMT).