Real Madrid player ratings vs Rayo Vallecano: Rodrygo wins it late as classy Karim Benzema gets back among the goals in Vinicius Jr's absence

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Rodrygo Real Madrid 2022-23
A late Rodrygo goal saved Real Madrid after a disappointing performance against city rivals Rayo Vallecano

The Brazilian, playing in the absent Vinicius Jr's position, provided a late moment of magic to snatch a home win, with his 89th-minute strike sealing an underwhelming 2-1 victory.

The home side endured a difficult opening to the game. 11th-placed Rayo Vallecano were aggressive in attack, and forced the usually sturdy duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos into a handful of giveaways. However, they couldn't make their possession count, with Thibaut Courtois called on to make a few neat saves.

And with the pressure soaked up at one end, Madrid struck at the other. Los Blancos started quickly from a drop ball, and cut open the visitors' defence with two swift passes. Karim Benzema was the beneficiary of it all, rounding the keeper and finishing from a tight angle.

He affected the game in other ways, too, pressing diligently and moving in and out of space to allow Madrid to settle into an attacking rhythm. By the time the second half came around, Los Blancos were thoroughly in control. But they couldn't find a crucial second, and were punished for it. Raul de Tomas ghosted past a sleeping Dani Carvajal and received a pass before firing his shot past Courtois with less than ten minutes to play.

Rodrygo played hero, though, dribbling into space and finding the bottom corner with a curled strike in the 89th minute to ensure Madrid ran out deserved winners.

GOAL rates Real Madrid's players from the Santiago Bernabeu...

  1. Goalkeeper & Defence

    Goalkeeper & Defence

    Thibaut Courtois (6/10):

    Kept his side in it with a few saves. Will be annoyed not to come away with a clean sheet.

    Dani Carvajal (5/10):

    Handled Rayo's pacy left side reasonably well, although he was a bit shaky in possession at times. Fell asleep for the visitors' goal, though.

    Nacho (5/10):

    An odd decision to start him at centre-back, and he didn't really impress.

    David Alaba (7/10):

    Enjoyed one particularly entertaining surge down the right, solid otherwise.

    Antonio Rudiger (6/10):

    An odd selection at left-back. He spent 90 minutes proving he doesn't belong in that position.

  2. Midfield


    Eduardo Camavinga (7/10):

    Back into a defensive-midfield role, where he looks far more settled, but not really as effective.

    Luka Modric (7/10):

    Started slowly, but impacted play much more in the second half. Classy, as usual.

    Toni Kroos (7/10):

    Passed with his usual conviction. Freed up by not having to play as a No.6.

  3. Attack


    Federico Valverde (5/10):

    Not involved much, although he did assist Benzema. He's a big part of this team long-term, but it's been a tricky few months on the pitch for the Uruguayan.

    Karim Benzema (8/10):

    Clearly playing through an injury, but took his goal well and caused problems with his movement.

    Rodrygo (7/10):

    Deployed on the left with Vinicius Jr out. Doesn't look as comfortable as he does on the other wing. Still, his late heroics ensured Madrid weren't embarrassed at home.

  4. Subs & Manager

    Subs & Manager

    Dani Ceballos (6/10):

    Given 30 minutes to impress with a contract extension potentially on the line.

    Marco Asensio (6/10):

    Didn't impact the game much.

    Aurelien Tchouameni (N/A):

    A good run out for a player still learning.

    Carlo Ancelotti (7/10):

    He didn't get a devastating performance out of his team. But who can blame him when there's so little to play for? Modric and Kroos both enjoyed solid shifts, while Benzema got on the scoresheet. This wasn't pretty, nor was it always easy, but Ancelotti will take the win.