Match Report: Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid got their Liga campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano, thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo at Vallecas.

They may have had to wait nearly 24 hours to get going after the cables to the floodlights at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas in what Vallecano president Martin Presa labelled an act of “sabotage”, but Los Blancos wasted no time when the game finally kicked off this evening, taking the lead just 13 minutes in.

Marcelo’s classy backheel in midfield beat the first line of an anarchic press from the hosts and set Madrid off a sweeping move that ended with Angel Di Maria sending in a low cross for Benzema to tap into an empty net at the back post.

Michael Essien and Luka Modric got the nod ahead of German midfield duo Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil, and Modric almost grabbed his first goal for the club when he found himself unmarked 12 yards from goal shortly before the half-hour mark, but sent his shot straight at the keeper.

Jose Mourinho’s side came into the game on the back of a three-match losing streak away from home in all competitions, having already lost as many games as they did in the whole of last season, and had to survive a scare half an hour in when Iker Casillas did well to stop Andrija Delibasic’s header before Mikel Labaka’s follow up was cleared off the line by the chest of Xabi Alonso.

Rayo had lost their last eight matches against with Madrid, their last victory against Los Blancos arriving fifteen years ago, and rallied after going close to an equaliser. As promised by coach Paco Jémez, the hosts’ approach was admirable, but they always looked in danger of being caught on the break.

And so it was Madrid who went closest before half time, Benzema finding space in the position Ronaldo has vacated before seeing his curled effort batted away by Ruben in the Vallecano goal.

Vallecano should have been level five minutes after the break, when Alvaro Arbeloa’s back-pass was sent straight to Delibasic inside the area, but the big Montenegro international miscontrolled with only Casillas to beat.

Benzema double Madrid’s lead on the hour, only to have his goal ruled out when, after seemingly having stopped for an incorrect offside decision, Di Maria was awarded a useless free-kick on the halfway line. Madrid’s inability to control possession in midfield was highlighted by Xabi Alonso picking up a booking for a rugby tackle on Lass Bangoura after they once lost the ball in midfield.

Modric faded out of the game in the second half and was replaced by Ozil with 25 minutes remaining, shortly after Jose Carlos shot narrowly over from outside the area.

Madrid won the corresponding fixture last season by a single goal, Cristiano Ronaldo´s wonderful back-heel settling a tight contest. The Portuguese international was making his 47th consecutive La Liga appearance and Ronaldo doubled his side’s lead from the spot with 20 minutes remaining after his attempted cross hit the arm of a sprawling Jordi Amat.

He should have put the game to bed a few minute later, but somehow managed to hit the post with the goal gaping from six yards after substitute Gonzalo Higuain had squared. But ultimately it proved nothing more than a slight embarrassment for Ronaldo during what was an often nervy display from Mourinho’s men. A miserable night for Casado was complete when he was dismissed in stoppage time, picking up second booking after a needless foul on Ozil.

There will be plenty to work on for Mourinho this week, not least his side’s propensity to needlessly give the ball away. After the points they’ve already dropped this season, however, that won’t matter tonight.

BREAKING NEWS: Rayo Vallecano – Real Madrid floodlight problems a terrorist act, says president

Rayo Vallecano president Martin Presa has stated that the floodlight issues that forced the postponement of Sunday night’s scheduled La Liga fixture against Real Madrid were caused by a “new kind of terrorism”.

The clash in the Spanish capital, which was due to take place on Sunday, was put off by 24 hours after the lights at Estadio de Vallecas failed to operate and could not be immediately repaired.

Presa had last night told the Spanish media that “vandals” had sabotaged the wiring at the ground, and he has since endorsed his viewpoint by claiming that “football terrorism” was to blame for the problem.

“This is a new kind of terrorism, a football terrorism where a few prevent the fans attending a show,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“About 19:00 yesterday, when we tested the lighting, technicians tested the lights and there was no lighting. Given this, the technicians went up to the stands to see what happened and realized that there are 57 cut wires. All of them were going to the mains.

“We have undertaken a special device to manage the crisis. At 09:00, the scientific police presented themselves at the club. Two and a half hours later they finished and gave way to a team of electricians who have worked to restore everything.

The club chief confirmed that the system will be tested later on Monday afternoon, with the postponed fixture due to take place at 20:00 CET.

“At 15:00 there will be a test of ignition sources. It will be quite tedious, because we have to light it one by one,” he added.

Hulk & Witsel are not Messi or Ronaldo, says unhappy Denisov

Russia captain Igor Denisov has voiced his dismay with Zenit St Petersburg’s policy to pay foreign stars such as Hulk and Axel Witsel higher wages than their Russian players.

The 28-year-old midfielder asked for a pay rise after the capture of the Brazil and Belgium internationals, but was demoted to the reserves rather than get the improved deal he was after, much to Denisov’s dismay.

“Why would foreigners earn three times more than the best players in the team? That’s why I asked for a pay rise. But I was axed by the coach instead,” Denisov stated to Sport Express.

“f Hulk and Witsel were at the same level as Messi and Ronaldo it would be fine, but they are not. So why do we have this imbalance in wages then?

“It’s not about money, it’s about respect. I couldn’t even sleep well a few nights in a row waiting for the club’s decision.”

Denisov then went on to stress that there’s no truth in the reports suggesting that the Zenit squad is deliberately making life difficult for their new players.

“Why do people say we don’t pass the ball to Hulk too often? We do. We didn’t give a warm welcome to him upon his arrival? We did.

“But it’s hard to communicate with him and Witsel through interpreters. They are supposed to try talking to us themselves.”

Zenit have won only one out of their last six games.

Messi and Ronaldo are the kings of football, says Queiroz

Former Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz has voiced his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi.

Queiroz, who was in charge of Madrid in 2003-04, feels the two are arguably the best in the world, and believes seeing them in action is a joy to behold, even for rival coaches.

“Messi and Ronaldo are the kings of football. They’re exact opposites, but our sport needs them both,” Queiroz was quoted as saying on the Fifa website.

“As a coach, you don’t want to come up against them, but that doesn’t stop you feeling treated every time you see them.”

Queiroz then went on to discuss the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and sees them as the best teams around.

 “They’re two radically different entities. Barcelona have great players like [Lionel] Messi, Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta, who’ve allowed them to collect a lot of titles in the last few years – and in style too.

“Once Real rediscovered their identity, though, they were able to dominate Barcelona, thanks also to excellent players. I think they’re the best two teams around at the moment.”

Barcelona currently hold an 11-point lead over Madrid in La Liga.

Mourinho wanted Rayo-Madrid to kick off at 5pm

Real Madrid director Miguel Pardeza has revealed that Jose Mourinho would have preferred Monday’s La Liga clash away against Rayo Vallecano to kick off at 17:00CET.

The league encounter was initially scheduled for Sunday evening, but was postponed after stadium lighting wires were cut by vandals before the game.

The match has now been re-arranged for Monday 19:45CET, but Mourinho would rather have seen a kick-off at an earlier stage.

“Given how tight the schedule is, it is best to play the game on Monday and at 17:00, because we are not assured that by 20:00 [when it is dark] the problem will be resolved,” Pardeza told reporters.

“That is the time that Mourinho asked for and that we supported.”

Madrid currently sit 16th in the Liga table with four points from as many games, while Rayo are seventh.