26 February 2012
Fernando Porrero / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell
Real Madrid suffered to take three points in Vallecas against Rayo, who always fought hard and proved to be a worthy opponent. A brilliant heel shot goal by Cristiano Ronaldo gave the team a victory that could very well prove to be key in the outcome of the championship.
Kaka, Marcelo and Higuain made Mourinho's starting lineup and the game had an intense start, with both sides looking for their strikers with long passes. Rayo were very motivated and complicated things for Real in set pieces. Mourinho's men didn't have possession as much as they're used to and weren't able to play their usual football, but they had the first chance to score nonetheless through Higuain, who was unable to dribble past Joel (17'). Ronaldo also tried seven minutes later with a distance shot that missed the mark, while Diego Costa proved threatening and a pain for Real's centre backs, and Piti sent the ball to one of the posts close to half-time (38').
Both sides continued to use long passes in the second half and the Whites soon scored from an Ozil corner-kick that was amazingly finished off by Ronaldo with a heel shot with his back to goal (54'). The locals suffered from this and the Madridistas started to dominate the encounter, with Mourinho looking to dominate more in midfield by replacing Kaka with Coentrao (60').
Rayo brought their lines further forward in pursuit of a goal, leaving spaces for Real Madrid to counterattack in. Higuain nearly tallied another strike in a one-on-one with Joel, but the keeper won the day. Michu sent the ball off target as he faced Casillas alone (72'), and the goalie was forced to make an amazing save a couple of minutes later to clear a spectacular distance shot by Casado (74'). Callejon came on for Higuian one minute later.
The locals put more pressure on the Madridistas, who suffered and kept counterattacking on occasion. Callejon missed the goal on the 81-minute mark and the final minutes became crazy, with either looking the winning part. The locals had an amazing chance in the 90th minute when Armenteros found himself alone facing Real's goal, but he missed the ball. Ronaldo nearly finished the match in the ensuing counterattack, but the ball went over the crossbar. Moments later, when Rayo were besieging Real's goal, the ref ended the match.