17 February 2013
In keeping with the theme of Mourinho’s spectacular figures in his 100 Liga matches, Real Madrid earned its fifteenth victory in the championship and extended the run of 35 matches unbeaten at home. The whistle to start the match saw the spotlight move from the coach, because of his accomplishments, to his players, who had an exceptional first quarter of an hour. Due to their greatest quality, speed in attack, they put on an attacking display and took the score line to 2-0 thanks to goals by Morata and Ramos. However, an unfair sending off for the scorer of the second goal, who was shown two yellow cards in one minute, changed the tone of the match. The White’s, however, demonstrated they are able to play in these circumstances. Despite playing for 70 minutes at a numerical disadvantage, they were resolute in defence and gave Rayo no opportunities.
Paco Jémez had warned in the build-up that his team was going to be courageous, and that is just how Rayo started, pressing high up the pitch but leaving too much space behind. Real Madrid accepted their proposal and showed themselves to be very comfortable from the beginning. With an unusual starting XI due to numerous injuries, the Whites were unstoppable in the first 18 minutes. The crowd were not made to wait long for the first goal. The third minute saw a move made in Real Madrid. A quick exchange between Kaká and Özil, who drove into the area, passes back and Morata, coming in from behind the strikers, scored with the first touch. The reserve team player’s second goal in his debut as a starting XI player in La Liga.
Despite conceding the goal Rayo were not daunted, but they were unable to keep possession long enough to make Mourinho’s players suffer. On the other hand, each time that the home side approached Rubén’s penalty area there was an air of danger. The second goal came in the twelfth minute. Özil’s free kick into the right hand side of the penalty area was met by Ramos, who beat Javi Fuego to the ball and headed at the near post. Real Madrid was enjoying how they were playing and the fans were enjoying the encounter. Even Essien got in on the act and dared to take a shot that was cleared by Rubén for a corner.
Real Madrid reduced to 10 men and the dynamic of the match changed
In the eighteenth minute Ramos was unfairly sent off after being shown two yellow cards in just over a minute. First, for a foul in midfield that did not deserve such punishment and in the following move for a handball after a cross by Casado. The numerical disadvantage changed the direction of the match. The Whites had to fall back, it was harder for them to steal possession and break quickly and their rhythm decreased. Mourinho felt obliged to restore balance to his team by bringing on Albiol for Morata. The match changed quickly from a speedy clash with chances. Rayo sought victory, but they were unable to breakdown a well deployed Real Madrid side. The visiting side’s clearest opportunity came right before the break, when a shot by Trashorras went over. Cristiano had a chance to score the third when he beat Rubén but was unable to finish after falling over.
Real Madrid took the initiative when play got back underway after the break. Aware that the result was not secure, the Whites went in search of more goals. Kaká and Cristiano were the protagonists of the second half’s first events. Rayo were not out of the contest, despite being less lively. They showed as much from time to time with fierce strikes by Lass and Domínguez.
Khedira had an opportunity in the sixty-sixth minute. A great move down the left by Kaká, who cut in to the area and passed to the German, whose shot was blocked by the defence and went out for a corner. The match was under control, but the goal was elusive. For this reason Mourinho brought on Di María for Özil. However, the team’s play was no longer as fluid. The effects of the performance against Manchester began to show. Despite this, the Whites were smart and showed themselves to be calm in defence, waiting to go on the counter attack for the goal that would seal the result.
The match became ugly in the final minutes. There were too many interruptions and too little football. The visitors tried desperately, although they were unable to cause Diego López any danger. Callejón came on for Kaká, who had given an excellent performance, in the eightieth minute. There was to be no change to the scoreboard and Real Madrid were the better team in the two matches. The match in which they played offensively until the sending off of Ramos and the match in which it had to defend for 70 minutes, in which they showed themselves resolute and unbeatable in defence.