Goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real Madrid a comfortable 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano in their rearranged La Liga clash at Estadio de Vallecas.
Benzema opened the scoring with a close-range finish after a slick counter-attack in the 13th minute and Ronaldo doubled his side’s tally from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining. Ronaldo missed a sitter late on and Madrid had a goal dubiously disallowed, but neither incident affected the result.
It was a routine victory for Jose Mourinho’s side after a faltering start to their campaign, as the visitors closed the gap on leaders Barcelona to eight points having fallen significantly behind after just four games.
Spanish media reacted with outrage and disbelief after the initial match on Sunday was abandoned because of alleged lighting sabotage, but it got under way without any problems second time around.
Sergio Ramos was recalled by Mourinho, who had dropped the defender for the Champions League encounter with Manchester City, with Luka Modric playing behind Benzema once more in what was a crucial match for Madrid.
The visitors almost went in front as early as the third minute as Ruben parried wide after Pepe rose imperiously at the back post to head on target from Angel Di Maria’s pinpoint free-kick, but Madrid did not have to wait long for their breakthrough.
Ronaldo stormed down the left at pace and found Angel Di Maria, who slid across a perfect delivery for Benzema to tap home from close range.
It was the Frenchman’s first Liga goal of the season, and his finish was the culmination of a pacy and incisive counter-attack.
Benzema was a constant threat, and he managed to dance between challenges on the edge of the box before firing a low shot straight at Ruben, who was able to save comfortably.
Di Maria continued to look potent coming off the wing, and he came close in the 19th minute, jinking inside from the right flank and firing a vicious shot agonisingly wide of the far post.
Rayo also had their chances. Lass Bangoura leapt highest to head on target from a corner kick on the right, but Iker Casillas made a fine save to deny the midfielder with Ramos sweeping up.
Real were perhaps unfortunate not to net a second on the hour mark as the referee disallowed a seemingly legitimate goal from Benzema.
Alejandro Dominguez and Alvaro Arbeloa slid in together on halfway with the ball breaking loose for the forward, who finished clinically past Ruben, with replays showing that the ball was played through by the Rayo midfielder. The official eventually awarded a free-kick in favour of the visitors, who were not placated by the dubious decision.
Modric dropped deeper and deeper as the second half went on, and the Croat was replaced by Mesut Ozil as Rayo edged the possession and sought to keep the ball in the Madrid half.
Madrid were gifted the opportunity of putting the match beyond doubt and doubling their lead in the 69th minute as Jordi Amat lunged in recklessly on Ronaldo - a needless foul as it came after the Portuguese had already released the ball.
Ronaldo stepped up and dispatched the spot-kick with aplomb, sending Ruben the wrong way with an emphatic finish into the corner.
The forward should have doubled his individual tally within seconds after substitute Gonzalo Higuain raced down the right and cut the ball back for his team-mate perfectly, but somehow Ronaldo scooped the ball on to the post from close range.
Real were content to play out the final minutes as a flurry of substitutions from both sides ensured that it was a fragmented period, with Higuain missing the best late chance as he blasted a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
The result moves Mourinho’s side back to within eight points of rivals Barcelona, and it was a sense of relief that greeted the full-time whistle with the crucial victory having been secured. With the frustration of the postponement having subsided, the result was worth the wait for Madrid.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Karim Benzema