Real Madrid secured a home win to bounce back from defeat to Valencia as they scored a late winner to run out 2-1 victors against Rayo Vallecano at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday night. Los Blancos went ahead early on courtesy of a Karim Benzema strike, but ex-Real Madrid man Raúl de Tomás came back to haunt his former club as he beat Thibaut Courtois at his near post. In the end, it was Rodrygo Goes who scored the winner at the death with a strike from the edge of the box.
Three Real Madrid 2-1 Rayo Vallecano stats
In the past few years, Real Madrid has scored a lot of late goals that have won games or changed the way they turned out. But it’s also true that almost all of their wins have been in European tournaments.
From Manchester City in last year’s Champions League to Villarreal in this year’s Copa del Rey, Real Madrid has needed late goals to keep them in the game and get the result they needed. Rodrygo Goes’ late winner was the first time Los Blancos have scored a game-winning goal so late since May 22, 2021, when Karim Benzema scored a winner against Villarreal after 91 minutes and 36 seconds.
It was also one of the Brazilian’s most important goals. He keeps stepping up when his countryman Vincius Jnior isn’t there, like he did recently against Cádiz. He scored his seventh goal of the LaLiga season, which is the same number of goals he scored in each of the past three seasons. Like this number, he has scored a lot of goals in Europe, but it has been harder for him to score at home.
He cut through Rayo Vallecano like a hot knife through butter when he broke through and curled a low shot into the bottom corner. He showed the kind of calmness and sharpness that have been missing in recent weeks, and he showed why Carlo Ancelotti has made him a mainstay on the first team as the season comes to a close.
Karim Benzema got the first goal in this game. It was his 11th goal against Rayo Vallecano in 12 games against the Madrid team. More importantly, it was his 30th goal in all competitions for the season. It is the third season in a row that he has hit this number, which shows how important he is to this team.
It is such a big deal because it puts him ahead of a group of great players like Alfredo di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, and Hugo Sánchez, who all scored 30 goals in four different seasons. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player who can match or beat Benzema’s five, since he has done it a record nine times.
There’s no denying Benzema’s impact, and even at age 35, he’s still a very important player. Before this game, he hadn’t scored a goal for the longest time in three years, so he would have been happy to score on his first chance.
He did it in typical Benzema style by going around Stole Dimitrievski, showing off all the skills that have helped him score 30 goals just this season.
One of the surprises of this game was how well German player Toni Kroos played. He almost didn’t look like he was getting older as he turned back the clock. He almost won the midfield fight by himself against a Rayo Vallecano team that has been able to compete with the best this season.
On the ball, he showed his normal speed and vision by completing 95 of the 99 passes he tried. He also made two chances and got fouled four times. Rayo quickly realized that if they wanted to stop Real Madrid from winning that night, they had to stop the moves where they started.
So, they went after the number eight and Eduardo Camavinga harder. Between them, they got nine fouls, while no other Real Madrid player got more than one.
Off the ball, nobody did. Better job of getting back what was lost. In total, he won 13 out of 19 duels, which is the most he has done in a while. The last time he went over the number was on February 6, 2019, when he tied 1-1 with Barcelona.
That was more than four years ago. Kroos really got into the game, making it a full-on show. At the end of the season, when there isn’t much left to play for, other players may have taken their foot off the gas, but that can’t be said about Kroos.