|Real Madrid players celebrate the second goal against Rayo Vallecano|
After a delay of a little over 22 hours with respect to the initial schedule, due to the electrical failure in the Vallecas stadium yesterday, Real Madrid faced the match against Rayo looking to recover the winning dynamic that led them to achieve the best Liga campaign in history. And they certainly met their objective. In fact, the Whites had the first opportunity at goal in the 3rd minute. Di María took the free kick and Pepe gave a header, but goalkeeper Rubén's extraordinary response prevented the Whites from opening on the scoreboard.
He wasn't able to do so ten minutes later in response to a textbook fast break that deserves to be shown in football academies. Marcelo began the play with a spectacular back heel kick, Modric continued and passed to Ronaldo who then passed to Di María. The Argentinian advanced up the left wing, entered the area and waited for the exact moment to assist Benzema, right between the legs of a midfielder. All the French player had to do was push it into the net, putting the cherry on the top of a brilliant collective play.
The goal, far from spurring on the locals, led to the visiting team's best moments in the first half. The Whites, who today gave their dark blue second kit its first official airing, enjoyed as many as four clear opportunities. Benzema and Di María, the two players who contributed most to the first goal, had the first two attempts in the 18th and 20th. Ronaldo, two minutes later, took a close shot next to Rubén from in front of the area and Modric had the clearest opportunity midway through the first half. The Croatian had the chance to score his first goal with Real Madrid but wasn't able to beat the home keeper in a one-on-one in the 25th.
This was followed by the home team's only opportunity at goal. Delibasic headed a cross from the right wing in the 33rd but Casillas' reaction was impeccable. The lesson in reflexes given by the world's best keeper left the ball loose in the area. Labaka seized the opportunity and his shot was on target. But just when it seemed that an equaliser was inevitable, Xabi Alonso was there to clear the ball from the goal line with his chest. It was the best way to warn Real Madrid that it had to make the most of its scoring opportunities if it didn't want to suffer in Vallecas.
The second half was a delight for the public. The match turned into a constant to-and-fro, a scenario in which Real Madrid is an expert, as they demonstrated last Tuesday against Manchester City. Mourinho, who made three changes to the line-up with respect to the last match (Ramos, Modric and Benzema at the expense of Varane, Khedira and Higuaín), decided to replace the Croatian with Özil in the 64th. Five minutes later the second goal came in a clear foul from Amat, who deflected Ronaldo's pass with his hands while on the ground. The Portuguese player, who has always scored against Rayo (five goals in three matches), took the penalty kick in the 69th and decided the match. He could have even scored a third three minutes later but he was thwarted by the post when he shot at open goal after a pass from Higuaín, who had come on to substitute Benzema. Real Madrid thus earned three points against a tough rival, who up until today remained undefeated and unbeaten on home ground, and in a tricky stadium that continues to bring the Whites good luck.
Stadium: Vallecas Stadium
Goals: 0-1: min. 12 Benzema; 0-2: min. 68 Cristiano Ronaldo (pen).