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
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...