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Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Real Madrid, Benzema goal wins it, summary: score, goals, highlights, LaLiga 2021/22

Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Real Madrid, Benzema goal wins it, summary: score, goals, highlights, LaLiga 2021/22

Rayo 0-1 Real Madrid: as it happened

Rayo 0-1 Real Madrid: summary

A late goal from Karim Benzema rescued a 1-0 win for Real Madrid at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday and allowed the LaLiga leaders to extend their advantage at the top of the standings.

They are now nine points clear of second-placed Sevilla, who will play third-placed Real Betis on Sunday.

Real Madrid looked slow and disjointed at Vallecas and were almost held to a goalless draw until Benzema and Vinicius Jr worked their magic seven minutes from time.

The French striker found Vinicius with a brilliant through pass and ran into space to receive the ball back and finish from close range with a single touch.

Here's how the top of the table looks after that game. Madrid's trip to the Sánchez Pizjúan is going to be a season-defining fixture. Sevilla are the only other horse left in the race.


Madrid carve out a 1-0 victory in Vallecas to extend their lead at the top of the table ahead of tomorrow's Seville derby.


Courtois launches the ball upfield and Rayo send it straight back... but there's no time for the home side and there's the whistle!


Ceballos into the book for protesting after Carvajal is floored by Falcao.


Mario Suárez, who has had an excellent game, cuts out a Benzema-bound from Valverde as Madrid break through Rodrygo.


Six minutes added!


Militão! The defender meets the delivery at the near post and hammers a header inches wide.


Rodrygo wins a corner with a burst of pace and quick feet. Time running out for Rayo to salvage something here. Kroos takes his time placing the ball.


Ceballos and Camavinga on for Madrid, Modric and Vinicius make way.


Iraola throws on another striker, Nteka replacing Óscar Trejo.

The Frenchman and Vinicius combine with a one-two in the area and the Brazilian tees up his partner for a simple tap in. Lovely work from Vinicius, who could have taken that on himself.


Gooooooooooooooool! Benzema!


Madrid with a long possession around the Rayo area but there is no way through for the visitors.


Courtois! Madrid fail to deal with a ball into the area and the keeper makes a point blank save from Álvaro García!


Rodrygo on for Asensio.


Valverde! The Uruguayan attemps to fire through a sea of defenders from Kroos' corner.


Appeals for a penalty, albeit mostly from the stands, as Nacho and Comesaña get into a tangle in the Madrid area.


Modric! The Croatian buys himself a yard in the area and whacks a shot against the post! The flag was up though.


And that's the end of Bebé's afternoon as he heads off with Guardiola. Falcao on to replace the forward.


Yet another yellow as Bebé hauls Mendy back.


Guardiola! He won't get many better chances today as the Rayo forward drifts into the near post and glances a header just wide.


Modric! The Croatian sells Ciss a dummy and sends in a cross that Luca is forced to stop.


Pathé Ciss comes on for Rayo, Valentín heads off belatedly.


And now Balliu is cautioned for a block on Vinicius. It's fair to say its got a bit niggly in the last few minutes.


Mendy clatters into Iván Balliu and adds another name to the ref's list.


Valentín is ok to continue after some treatment but Ancelotti decides to haul Casemiro off after that challenge. Fede Valverde on for Madrid.


Valentín remains down and it looks as though he will have to go off.


And the Brazilian joins Trejo on a yellow after a wild lunge into Óscar Valentín. He was perhaps lucky yellow was the extent of it.


Óscar Trejo goes into the book for a rugby tackle on Casemiro.


Suárez! The Rayo veteran meets the delivery with a wonderful header that Courtois claws away under the bar! Excellent save from the Belgian.


Corner for Rayo after good work from Guardiola.


Guardiola! Another excellent cross from Fran García but the striker fails to connect properly and glances his header across goal.


Rayo break from the delivery through Bebé but the Portuguese overruns it with support on both sides.


Vinicius! The ball finds its way through to the Brazilian but his shot is blocked by Suárez. Another corner...


Another corner for Madrid as Asensio gets away down the left.


Bebé! The Portuguese winger hits a cross as he's falling and the ball loops onto Courtois' bar!


Asensio swings in a free kick and will have another pop from the corner flag as Mario Suárez heads clear.


Madrid get the second half underway!

No changes at half time by the looks of...

Ancelotti emerges from the tunnel looking pensive. What has the Italian schemer got up his sleeve for the second half?

Madrid have now failed to score in the first half in their last eight consecutive games.


And there's the whistle! An entertaining half of football in Vallecas, chances at both ends, but it remains goalless as the teams head in for the break.


Two minutes added.


Luca! A fine save from the Rayo keeper to deny Benzema, who had ghosted into space in the area.


Fran García is down after being clothes-lined by Militão.


Óscar Valentín finds his way into the book for a wild challenge on Benzema. There's a bit of afters as well as Vinicius goes down clutching his face. Nacho, always the voice of reason, smooths ruffled feathers and we're back underway.


Chalked off! The VAR check says offside and we remain all square in Vallecas.

The Brazilian thrashes into the net from close range but VAR is having a look at a possible foul... Asensio looked to be a shade offside when the ball was played in as well.


Goooooooooooooooool! Casemiro!


Benzema! Carvajal finds the Frenchman after a switch of play and his shot clips a defender for a corner.


Madrid are finding it very difficult to thread the ball through to Benzema at the moment, Rayo are set up well and have more or less neutralised Asensio and Vinicius.


Álvaro García! Mendy plays the ball straight to the Rayo winger, who skips into the area and lashes a shot over the bar! A let-off for Madid there, the visitors have been very sloppy playing out from the back.


13 shots so far, two on target from Rayo and four from Madrid.


There's a melee in the area as the ball drops to Benzema and Rayo fail to clear. The Frenchman tries to chip Luca but the flag is up and the ref finally spots it.


Rayo almost have a three-on-two break but Fran García can't quite pick the final ball and Militão intercepts.


Guardiola! A cracking header from the forward that flashes just over the bar with Courtois static.


Asensio! What a strike from the winger, drawing an equally fine save from Luca.


Glorious control from Benzema to pluck a ball from the air but the flag is up.


First corner of the game goes Madrid's way as Modric's long-range effort hits a defender and spirals out.


Guardiola! The Rayo forward has a free header in the area but sends it straight at Courtois.


Madrid are struggling to hold onto the ball with Rayo snapping at heels and getting to 50-50s first. Kroos and Modric have barely had a touch.


A poor clearance from Militão gives Fran García the chance to fly down the left and he sends a cross in but Courtois is up to gather. Rayo growing into the game now.


Ufffffff... Mario Suárez doesn't score many and the former Atlético man, slotting in at the back today, hammers a shot high into the crowd.


Bebé! Rayo launch a quick break and the Portuguese lashes a shot just wide. Courtois had it covered anyway but the home side have some serious speed on the wings today.


Vinicius! The Brazilian's confidence is sky high at the moment and he picks up the ball on the edge of the area, ducks a couple of challenges anf flashes a shot past Luca's far post.


Álvaro García nicks the ball in midfield but is pulled up for a handball. He looks indignant but in fairness he didn't disguise it very well.


Asensio! A loose ball out from the back gifts possession to Madrid, Benzema finds his attacking partner and the Spain international hits a low shot that forces Luca Zidane into a save.


A lively start in Vallecas, both sides pinging the ball about but with little in the way of precision at the moment. The pitch is a bit slippery with some light rain in the capital during the day.


We're off! Rayo get the ball rolling in Vallecas

The teams are in the tunnel now and we're just a few moments from kick-off in Vallecas.

Rayo not so quick on the draw

The home side today have recorded the joint-fewest number of draws in LaLiga this season, with just four in 20 games.

Warm-ups underway in Vallecas...

Rayo starting XI confirmed

Luca Zidane is between the sticks against his former club and Mario Suárez, another familiar face during his time at Atlético, starts. Guardiola gets the nod up top with Falcao on the bench.

Real Madrid starting XI confirmed

No major surprises from Ancelotti, with Nacho coming in at the back for the absent David Alaba.

A glance at the Estadio de Vallecas, one of the league's quirkiest grounds.

Few people have forgotten this either... surely one of Cristiano Ronaldo's finest goals for Madrid, scored exactly 10 years ago today in a 1-0 victory in Vallecas.

Rayo vs Real Madrid: head-to-head

The last three games between the two sides have been close contests, Madrid winning 2-1 earlier this season, Rayo edging a 1-0 win the last time the side met in Vallecas and Madrid doing the same in the reverse fixture in the 2018-19 season.

Few Rayo fans will forget their darkest day at the Bernabéu in 2015, when Madrid ran out 10-2 winners in the final fixture before xmas.


Real Madrid: Lunin sends out an SOS for Ukraine

The club, president Florentino Pérez, coach Carlo Ancelotti and his team mates are all very concerned for the Ukrainian keeper, who understandably has been affected by Russia's military invasion of his homeland.

In yesterday's press conference, Ancelotti told reporters, "War is nothing but horror. Lunin is very worried because some of the people close to him live near Kiev, I think his mother is there. Understandably, he's not as upbeat as he usually is. Training sessions are helping a little for him to take his mind off things. Both myself and the president have spoken to him. We want to make him know that the whole club is behind him".

Ancelotti back to almost full strength

The Italian has had his fair share of injury issues this season but has Ferland Mendy, Jesús Vallejo and Dani Carvajal all back in defence, allowing Lucas Vázquez to be included in the squad for Rayo in his regular position as a midfielder. Dani Ceballos has returned from a lengthy lay-off and Karim Benzema and Mariano are available to bolster the attack, which has been an area of experimentation in recent weeks with Isco, Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale all occupying the central role in the Frenchman’s absence.

Falcao may drop to the bench

The summer acquisition of Radamel Falcao raised a few eyebrows in Vallecas and beyond but the Colombia forward proved an instant hit, scoring five goals in his first eight league games. However, those have now dried up, Falcao not finding the net since November, precisely against Real Madrid in a 2-1 defeat at the Bernabéu.

Sergi Guardiola also has five for the season and may be preferred up top today for the hosts.

Rayo were promoted last season through the playoffs after finishing sixth in Segunda and look to have more or less secured their Primera status with 25 games played, Iraola's side holding a game in hand due to the postponement of their away fixture at Barça.


Goal-shy Rayo

Rayo have been struggling for goals, scoring just twice in their last six Liga outings. Still, the promoted side are 11 points clear of the drop zone and have little reason not to take a swing on Saturday to try and repeat the trick they pulled off in 2018-19, snatching a 1-0 victory in Vallecas to record their only Liga win over Madrid in the last decade.

Real Madrid have a six-point advantage over Sevilla going into today's game, with the Andalusian outfit in action against Betis in the Seville derby on Sunday.


Hello and welcome to AS USA's live coverage of the Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid from the Estadio de Vallecas. Kick-off today is at 12:30 ET / 09:30 PT.


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