As if their poor record against Los Blancos wasn’t enough, Carlos Carvalhal’s squad had been stretched by injury before journeying to the capital.
Kevin Vazquez and Augusto Solari both made just their third start of the season, but they – along with their Celta comrades – stood firm early on.
And even when Real Madrid stepped up their game after a relatively bland opening 20 minutes, Ivan Villar remained largely unworked, as efforts from Aurelien Tchouameni and Karim Benzema went harmlessly off target, before Marco Asensio’s strike was deflected over the crossbar.
Celta were pushed back further the more the half went on, but it looked as though they would make it to the break unscathed.
However, Kevin had always been in a precarious position after receiving a booking for a late challenge on Ceballos earlier in the game, and was left badly exposed in the 42nd minute with the game’s maiden shot on target.
Ceballos himself played the ball behind the right-back for Vinicius Junior to run onto and tee up Asensio, whose first-time finish was deflected into the top corner for his third goal in four matches.
It then only took three second-half minutes for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to double their lead and all but seal the points, as Eder Militao powered home his header from Asensio’s corner delivery, taking the Brazilian defender to five goals in a league campaign for the first time in his career.
Any moments of Celta excitement were fleeting after that, as embodied with particular zeal by Eduardo Camavinga, who magnificently raced back to halt Iago Aspas’ run through, moments before Benzema saw a header denied at the other end.
And even when Aspas finally got past Los Blancos’ backline in the final quarter-hour, he was met by the considerable frame of Thibaut Courtois, who kept his fourth consecutive clean sheet in Real Madrid’s 10th home league win of the season, as they went within eight points of leaders Barcelona for now.
In doing so, they also ended Celta’s five-game unbeaten run in away matches, with the side from Galicia remaining 12th as it stands.