Real Madrid back into second with late Rodrygo goal securing victory over Rayo Vallecano

Real Madrid back into second with late Rodrygo goal securing victory over Rayo Vallecano

Real Madrid clinched a dramatic victory over Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Wednesday, showing resilience after a disappointing and emotionally charged match against Valencia in their previous outing.

Karim Benzema broke the deadlock early on, suggesting a routine win for Real Madrid. However, Rayo’s Raul de Tomas struck in the closing stages, only for Rodrygo to deliver an even later winner.

As the 2022/23 season nears its end, Los Blancos have no meaningful objectives left to pursue. They have already secured their first Copa del Rey title in nine years, while Barcelona has comfortably reclaimed the La Liga crown, and Real Madrid is out of the Champions League ahead of the final next month.

Nonetheless, the victory in their second-to-last home game of the season brought joy to the fans at the Bernabeu. This was particularly significant given the gestures of support for Vinicius Junior, who was recently subjected to racist abuse during the Valencia match.

Real Madrid took some time to find their attacking rhythm, and it was actually the visitors who had the first three shots on target of the evening. However, Benzema demonstrated clinical finishing when he was played through on goal by Federico Valverde after half an hour, evading Stole Dimitrievski and calmly slotting the ball home.

The hosts could and perhaps should have been in a more commanding position by halftime. An excellent combination between Benzema and Rodrygo put the latter in a prime position to score, but he inexplicably tripped over his own feet at the crucial moment, with no defenders nearby.

Rayo posed a threat through Isi Palazon in the first half, but Dani Carvajal came close to scoring with a volley at the back post from a Luka Modric cross.

Both teams made several changes during the second half, reflecting the lack of stakes in the game. With Real Madrid leading and in control, the match lacked attacking flair, resulting in few opportunities to build upon their 1-0 lead.

Their failure to capitalize on their advantage ultimately cost them, as Rayo substitute De Tomas unleashed a low shot from the edge of the box, finding the net with just minutes left of the 90. However, this setback seemed to rejuvenate Real Madrid, as Rodrygo swiftly restored their lead.

Toni Kroos initiated a dangerous situation in the opposing half, followed by a sequence of precise and rapid passes by Real Madrid, creating the space for Rodrygo to calmly guide the ball into the bottom corner