Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Real Madrid (Benzema). Here is the immediate reaction to the dry win. Coming up: press conference highlights, player ratings and a ManagingMadrid podcast.
After a rare break, Real Madrid were back in league action against local outfit Rayo Vallecano. The positive 3-0 win over Deportivo Alavés was still marred with awkward moments and performances - so this game posed another opportunity to clean out the rustiness seen in recent weeks. The line-up was as strong as usual, with Nacho Fernández selected to fill in for the absent David Alaba. Fede Valverde returned to the bench and was joined by the likes of Eden Hazard and Isco. Karim Benzema led the team out for this one. Castilla graduates Luca Zidane and Fran García started for the hosts, the latter being one to watch with Fran being rumoured to have caught the gaze of the club ahead of next season.
✅ Our starting @RayoVallecano! #RayoRealMadrid pic.twitter.com/5BnyvgvKiJ— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 26, 2022
Real Madrid’s wait for a convincing first half performance continues, as the highlights of the opening 45 minutes included a rival fan getting up close and personal with Éder Militão - and the fact that Luca Zidane was in goal for the opposition. Marco Asensio came very close to scoring a typically marvellous goal, but the ball curved just wide of Luca Zidane’s post. Rayo came close with a headed effort that Thibaut Courtois almost spilled, but the goalkeeper was able to sort his hands out in good time to avoid a pouncing attacker. Benzema came close with a blocked effort looping over, and Casemiro had the ball in the net after the resulting ball in - but the goal was ruled out due to the Brazilian being offside. Once more it would take a significant step up in the second half for Real Madrid to come away with a result here.
Real Madrid haven't scored a first half goal in any of their last EIGHT matches in all competitions.— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) February 26, 2022
Tension only rose as Real Madrid failed to break down a resilient Vallecano, but most of the frustration was aimed towards the seemingly intentional lack of threat posed by the players. Chances were not flying in, and the half chances that did come in were either defended off or not taken well enough. Dropped points here would spell disaster in the title race, so Fede Valverde and Rodrygo Goes were introduced to try and alter proceedings. It wasn’t until the last ten minutes when Madrid managed to salvage the points - with Karim Benzema coming good when needed once again this season. He linked up with Rodrygo smoothly to round the defence and draw the keeper out for an open goal finish. It was clear there was going to be no further action now that Madrid had what they needed, and the game finally finished after a huge amount of added time with the score at 1-0 to Madrid. The wait for the team to break out of this lifeless spell continues. Happy with the win, Madridistas?