Real Madrid Edge Past Mallorca to Take Top Spot in La Liga

Real Madrid Edge Past Mallorca to Take Top Spot in La Liga

Real Madrid provisionally climbed three points clear at the top of La Liga on Wednesday, courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Real Mallorca.

Antonio Rudiger proved to be the hero for Los Blancos, heading home from a corner with 12 minutes remaining to settle a tight encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mallorca twice hit the woodwork during the game, but they were ultimately unable to find an equalizer against a determined Real Madrid side.

Vinicius Returns, But Madrid Struggles for Fluency

The game saw the return of Vinicius Junior from injury, but the Brazilian winger struggled to make a significant impact on the game. He was well-marshaled by Mallorca’s Pablo Maffeo and was eventually substituted in the 60th minute.

Despite Vinicius’s quiet performance, Real Madrid created a number of good chances in the first half. Jude Bellingham and Vinicius himself both went close, while Mallorca also threatened through Antonio Sanchez, who headed against the crossbar.

Mallorca Miss Chances, Rudiger Rescues Madrid

The second half saw Mallorca continue to threaten on the counter-attack. Samu Costa and Sanchez both wasted good opportunities, while Luka Modric came close for Real Madrid with a long-range effort.

With the game seemingly heading for a draw, Rudiger popped up to head home the winning goal from a Modric corner. The German defender’s goal sparked wild celebrations in the Bernabeu and ensured that Real Madrid would start the new year top of the table.

Ancelotti Praises Rudiger’s Impact

Speaking after the game, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti praised Rudiger’s performance.

“Antonio was fantastic tonight,” said Ancelotti. “He was a real leader at the back and his goal was the difference between the two teams.”

“We weren’t at our best tonight, but we showed great character to come away with the three points. This is a big win for us and it puts us in a strong position at the top of the table.”

What’s Next for Real Madrid?

Real Madrid will now turn their attention to their Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. They will then return to La Liga action next week with a home game against Getafe.

Mallorca, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their defeat when they host Espanyol on Saturday.