Real Madrid return to winning ways with narrow victory over Rayo Vallecano

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Real Madrid put the Champions League loss to CSKA Moscow behind them with a hard-earned 1-0 derby win over Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu.

Santiago Solari and his side had been jeered off after a 3-0 home defeat by the Russians in midweek, but produced the required result against their local rivals.

An early goal from Karim Benzema, who later went off injured, proved enough for victory, which moved Los Blancos up to third in the LaLiga table, two points off the top.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, though, had to make a smart double save in stoppage time to deny Rayo, who remain second bottom, a dramatic equaliser.

Los Blancos midfielder Luka Modric was presented with the Ballon D’Or before kick-off, with the home side soon starting to dominate possession when the action got under way.

Real went in front with their first decent opening after 13 minutes.

The ball was knocked out to Lucas Vazquez wide on the right, and he glided towards the edge of the penalty area before playing in Benzema, who turned to coolly slot into the far corner.

Rayo almost swiftly got themselves back on level terms when centre-back Emiliano Velazquez sent his header wide from a corner.

Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski then had to be alert as Marco Asensio got in down the left and forced the Macedonia international into a smart save with his legs.

Real Madrid’s Marcelo (centre) in action against Rayo Vallecano. (Manu Fernandez/AP)
Real Madrid’s Marcelo, centre, helped his side defeat Rayo Vallecano (Manu Fernandez/AP)

With 35 minutes gone Real Madrid, missing Gareth Bale through injury, went close to a second when a 20-yard strike from Toni Kroos rattled back of the post.

The hosts had some defending to do as the interval approached from a Rayo free-kick out on the left, but Adrian Embarba clipped the angled delivery high and wide.

Rayo regrouped for the start of the second half, but could have fallen further behind after 51 minutes.

Modric turned Alejandro Galvez at the edge of the penalty area and picked out Asensio, whose effort was saved by Dimitrievski.

In the 65th minute, Real had a second goal ruled out after Sergio Ramos headed in a cross from Kroos, but the captain had strayed offside.

Rayo substitute Bebe forced Courtois into action with a long-range swerving effort which the Belgium goalkeeper punched away.

With 15 minutes left Modric, yet to score this season, dragged his shot wide after a break from midfield.

Benzema hobbled off with what looked like a shin injury, as promising 18-year-old forward Vinicius Junior was given a chance to impress for the closing stages.

The Brazilian shot wide with a late chance, before Real were forced into some desperate defending during stoppage time.

Courtois saved from an acrobatic effort by substitute Alex Alegria and also pushed away Velazquez’s follow-up.

Real now head off to the Club World Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates.

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