Carlo Ancelotti described Luka Modric as “immortal” after his outstanding display in Real Madrid’s 4-1 LaLiga win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Modric, 36, restored Madrid’s lead shortly before half-time with a superb strike from outside the box after Karim Benzema and Iago Aspas exchanged penalties.
It was the first time the Croatia international had scored two consecutive goals from another area in the competition since January 2019, when he completed a run of three.
Indeed, more than half of Modric’s goals for Madrid in all competitions have come from outside (18 of 32).
He then followed it up in the second half with a brilliant pass to set up Vinicius Junior for Madrid’s third.
The LaLiga and European champions agreed a deal with Manchester United to sell midfielder Casemiro on Friday, but Modric did not appear to miss the Brazilian.
“Modric’s goal changed the game,” Ancelotti said. “Up until that point it was fairly balanced, Celta pressed well, but it dropped off in the second half.
“Modric is immortal. He is always ready and always plays well.”
Aurelien Tchouameni impressed in Casemiro’s traditional role at the base of Madrid’s midfield three, with no player on the pitch making more clearances (four) or tackles (three) while winning possession nine times, a joint team-high.
The French international is considered by many to be the natural heir to Casemiro, but Ancelotti does not want to compare them.
“Tchouameni has different qualities to Casemiro, but he played very well today,” said the Italian.
“He showed what he showed in training. He defended well without the ball. He did well defensively with Modric and [Eduardo] Camavinga.”
Substitute Eden Hazard missed the chance to score his first LaLiga goal since May 2021 when his late penalty was saved by Agustin Marchesin.
Benzema gave up the option of attacking on his own – a gesture welcomed by Ancelotti.
“I thought it was a very nice gesture from Benzema to Hazard,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if he missed because he normally takes penalties well. The more important thing is that Hazard performed well overall.”