Real Madrid hung on to defeat a late-charging Rayo Vallecano 2-1 in LaLiga Santander on Saturday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Los Blancos looked to be on easy street after scores from Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema, but a late surge from Rayo, led by super substitute Radamel Falcao, made for a very nervy finale for the home side.

Carlo Ancelotti made two changes from the team that downed Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, with Eduardo Camavinga and Marco Asensio in for a fever-ridden Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez, respectively.

VAR was called on early in this one and, after the dust settled, Real Madrid had a 1-0 lead. Initially, Vinicius had been ruled offside when he was played a header from Kroos as part of a counter-attack that ultimately ended with Kroos banging in a pass from Asensio, however, the play went to VAR and the call was reversed to a goal.

Real Madrid remained in control and soon enough doubled their lead to 2-0 when David Alaba sent in a cross that Benzema got on the end of and guided into the net for the goal.

Benzema should have had a second goal in as many minutes when Stole Dimitrievski had to parry a hard hit from Vinicius, with the rebound going straight to Benzema, who instead headed over the crossbar.

Real Madrid showed no signs of letting up and only a goal-line clearance prevented Vinicius from making it three. Dimitrievski was also called on to make a stop from Asensio after he had collected a pass from Kroos and split the central defenders, followed by another Benzema miss after back-to-back back-heels from Vinicius and Mendy.

Rayo needed a spark in attack, so former Atletico Madrid man Radamel Falcao was summoned from the bench, but it was Bebe who had Rayo’s first chance at a goal when he hammered a shot off the post with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat.

Falcao would make his presence felt, though, and a header by the Colombian veteran off a floated cross from Alvaro Garcia pulled Rayo to within 2-1.

Moments after his score, though, Falcao sustained an injury and was forced off, while Ancelotti turned to Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez off the bench for Benzema and Asensio.

Real Madrid were unnerved by the Rayo goal and the visitors from Vallecas were the ones closest to finding another score in the late going and it took a last-gasp goal-line clearance from Kroos in stoppage time to keep Oscar Valentin from equalizing, sparing Los Blancos from a similar collapse to that suffered by rivals Barcelona earlier in the day.


Courtesy: MARCA

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