Monday, November 29, 2021

Real Madrid 2-1 Rayo Vallecano: Kroos and Benzema send Los Blancos top of LaLiga

SoccerNews in La Liga 6 Nov 2021


Karim Benzema continued his fine form in front of goal as Real Madrid went top of LaLiga with a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Toni Kroos put Madrid ahead when he finished off a counter-attack in the 14th minute, the goal awarded after a VAR review having initially been ruled offside.

Benzema’s 10th league goal of the season – and ninth in 10 against Rayo – made it two seven minutes before half-time, but Madrid sat back following the restart and Radamel Falcao’s response ensured a tense finish.

Rayo could not quite forge an equaliser, though, and Madrid moved two points ahead of Real Sociedad at the summit at least until their trip to Osasuna on Sunday.

Alvaro Garcia had almost given Rayo a shock early lead when he broke clear of the Madrid defence only to send his shot wide, a chance that jolted Carlo Ancelotti’s side into life.

Vinicius Junior had the ball in the net, yet the VAR determined Benzema had been offside in the build-up, and the France forward then lifted a shot over the crossbar from a good position before Kroos scored on the break, rifling in from Marco Asensio’s cross and this time seeing the technology work in Madrid’s favour.

Madrid went into the interval two goals ahead when Benzema got on the end of a superb teasing cross from David Alaba and calmly nudged the ball into the net at the back post.

Ferland Mendy teed up Benzema to curl over just after the hour, but a brief cameo from Falcao – introduced in the 69th minute before departing in the 81st – brought Rayo back into the reckoning as his header from Garcia’s cross deflected off Alaba and deceived Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid fans then had their hearts in their mouths at the death when Oscar Valentin saw his shot blocked by Eduardo Camavinga and Kroos crucially cleared his follow-up effort off the line.

What does it mean? Home comforts return for Ancelotti

Madrid had drawn 0-0 in each of their previous two home LaLiga games against Villarreal and Osasuna. They had not been held in three straight home league matches since October 1969 and never while failing to score in each game.

But Ancelotti’s men rediscovered their swagger before Falcao’s goal – his third in four LaLiga games against Madrid but first at the Santiago Bernabeu – kept home fans on their toes.

Brilliant Benzema shines again

Benzema was the difference-maker again for Madrid and has now been directly involved in 22 goals in 15 matches for Madrid in all competitions this season, trailing only Robert Lewandowski (25 involvements in 17 matches) of players in Europe’s top five leagues. The striker leads the charts in LaLiga for both goals (10) and assists (seven).

Nteka offers little

With Falcao starting from the bench, Randy Nteka was initially tasked with leading the line for Rayo. However, he failed to make an impact. An isolated figure, Nteka managed just one shot on target and only three touches inside the box.

What’s next?

Madrid are next in LaLiga action after the international break when they head to Granada on November 21, while Rayo host Real Mallorca a day later.


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