It took them 56 minutes to finally unlock the Celtic defence in their opening UEFA Champions League game last night, but Real Madrid eventually showed their class, overcoming their Scottish opponents 3-0.
The third goal in the victory showed the class that Carlo Ancelotti’s side possess, with Eden Hazard putting the finishing touch to a 33-pass move to score his first UCL goal since November 2020.
That 33-pass move is the longest leading to a Real Madrid goal in the Champions League on record, a longer sequence than all 434 of Real’s goals in the competition since the start of 2003-04 (as far back as data is available).
The move lasted one minute and 37 seconds, with no Celtic player having a touch of the ball and started when Toni Kroos played a free-kick into the feet of Luka Modrić.
Amazingly, no Celtic player had a single touch of the ball between 73:01 and Kyogo Furuhashi’s kick-off to restart the match on 77:16 – a full four minutes and 15 seconds of dominance, interrupted only by a foul committed by Jota on Eduardo Camavinga, with a 38-second break in play while Real organised themselves to take the free-kick.
In fact, the only touch a Celtic player had of the ball between 71:47 and 77:16 was by Josip Juranović to dispossess Vinícius Júnior and concede a throw-in. One touch in five minutes and 29 seconds.
Just two goals scored in the UCL since 2003-04 have seen a longer sequences of uninterrupted passes in the build up than Hazard’s strike last night.
The longest on record was also scored against Celtic, by Real’s rivals Barcelona. Cristian Tello’s goal in December 2013 at Camp Nou put the cap on a sensational 6-1 victory for the La Liga side. His strike put the finishing touch on a 40-pass move by Gerardo Martino’s side, just nine minutes after entering the game as a substitute.
The only other Champions League goal on record to consist of a longer build-up of passes was Dejan Stankovic’s strike for Internazionale in their 4-3 win over Tottenham Hotspur in October 2010 at the San Siro.
The goal, capping a brilliant 35-pass move, put Inter 3-0 up inside 14 minutes, which became 4-0 before half-time when Samuel Eto’o added a fourth in the 35th minute. Unfortunately for Stankovic, the game isn’t remembered for his strike, but for Gareth Bale’s sensational second half hat-trick – the occasion where he really burst onto the world scene.
Real Madrid’s previous longest sequence of passes leading to a Champions League goal came less than a year ago, in November 2021.
Karim Benzema’s strike – one of 15 he scored on the way to finishing top scorer in 2021-22 – finished off a 31-pass move in their 2-1 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage.
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