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February 26, 2012
• Estadio del Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero), Madrid
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan
• Attendance: 13500
Cristiano Ronaldo 54'
Full time in the capital. Cristiano Ronaldo proves to be the difference as he wins the match for Real Madrid with a delightful back-heel. Rayo were plucky, and should be proud of their performance. 1-0 Real Madrid. Thanks for joining us on Goal.com folks, and thanks for your Tweets. Stay tuned later this evening for coverage of Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Pepe
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Arribas
Yellow Card Fabio Coentrao
End to end stuff here! Rayo miss a great opportunity at the back post and then Real Madrid counterattack at pace but are unable to take advantage of their forward numbers and waste the chance! Not long left now!
Red Card Michu
Michu is sent off! The Rayo man caught Sami Khedira on the achilles with a challenge from behind! It was a poor challenge but a red card may be harsh!
Ronaldo picks up the ball on the left and does a few step-overs before cutting inside and attempting to pick out an unmarked Ozil at the back post but his pass was tame an Rayo manage to clear.
Yellow Card Javi Fuego
Great save from Joel! A dipping Ronaldo free kick looked destined for the far post but the Rayo goalkeeper got down well to parry the ball away from danger!
Rayo are going for it now and bringing on a striker for a defender. Raul Tamudo is introduced in place of Jose Manuel Casado.
Final change for Madrid as Esteban Granero replaces Marcelo. Smart move from Mourinho as Granero will keep things calm and be tidy in possession for the remaining minutes.
The latest chapter of the Diego Costa vs Sergio Ramos feud sees the Brazilian pulled the Madrid defender by the neck and then go down as if he has been hurt. Quiet comedic.
Another change for Madrid as Higuain is replaced by Jose Callejon.
The game has kicked up a gear in the last few minutes. Rayo should arguably be level but Michu squandered a golden chance and Iker Casillas pulled off a world class save. There could be more goals in this folks!
What an incredible save from Casillas! The Madrid goalkeeper punched the ball from danger but saw a rebound drilled towards the top corner! He somehow got a finger tip to it!
Huyyyyyyy!!!!! Michu takes advantage of some indecision from Ramos to steal the ball and charge through on goal but balloons his shot over the bar from 10 yards! Horrible miss!
Real Madrid have looked sharper since their goal. Perhaps this is due to Rayo coming out of their shell slightly to try and find a goal. There is more space becoming available.
@sloberchea2000 writes on Twitter: "I don't know what do u make of that goal, I believe it was incredible! He is a fantastic player to watch!" It was an astonishing goal!
Yellow Card Xabi Alonso
Ronaldo drives a free kick at goal from considerable distance that is initially fumbled by Joel. As Madrid players were rushing in to follow-up he composed himself and manages to claim possession in his arms.
Diego Costa has done well so far in the match. He has done his best to get involved in the hustle and bustle in the Madrid box and has been a pest to Pepe and Ramos. He just needs a chance to come his way.
First change of the match for Real Madrid as Fabio Coentrao comes on to replace Kaka. The Brazilian has been very disappointing in the match.
Well folks, we were asking for an injection of quality and boy did we get in. Masterful goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Xabi Alonso whips in a free kick from the left which has Joel scrambling backwards. The Rayo goalkeeper manages to tip the ball away at full stretch. Higuain was sniffing around for any scraps.
Goal C. Ronaldo
GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAL FOR REAL MADRID! My word! Stunning from Ronaldo! Mesut Ozil whips in a corner and the Portuguese takes the ball down and then, whilst facing away from goal, back-heels the ball through the crowd and into the net!
A game of head-tennis being played in midfield at the moment. Kind of sums up the lack of quality on show in the match.
The second half has started in the same vein as the first. Madrid are dominating possession but no real penetrating play is being created.
So the general consensus is that Madrid's class will eventually shine through. They have forty minutes to break through this sturdy Rayo defence so we shall see.
@ippolito_joe thinks that Madrid are missing Di Maria: "Di Maria for sure. I predict 3 goals in the second .. Final 2 - 1 Madrid."
@bolajinifemi writes: "Rayo vallecano really hold madrid tight but they can't be stop from finding the back of the net. I predict 0-2 in favour of madrid"
Thanks a lot for your Tweets at half-time there folks! @shashwatrff writes: "2nd half will see more urgency in madrid.at the moment the game is too slow to say anything. Anyways i think 2-1 RM."
The second half has kicked off. Lets hope we get more quality in the next 45 minutes!
Half time. Well its not the best match so far, Rayo frustrating Madrid so far and something will need to be changed for the visitors if they are to have any joy in the second half. Join us in fifteen minutes for the second period!
Yellow Card Marcelo
The frustration all the more clear now as Mesut Ozill cynically clips the heels of Piti when Rayo were mounting a pacey counterattack.
Yellow Card Iker Casillas
Rayo remaining solid at the back for the time being. They have made Madrid resort to speculative long range strikes so far and Mourinho's side are starting to show signs of frustration.
Rayo just starting to creep into the game now. They have had a couple of near misses now and Madrid looking slightly lethargic at the back. Can they take advantage though, that is the question,
Huuyyyyyy!! Rayo nearly score!! Michu neatly cuts into the box and attempts to curl the ball into the top right corner but just clips the top of the bar!
Madrid's key players need to get into the game. Apart from a decent shot from Ronaldo none of them have had a meaningful impact on the game so far. Not a great match so far.
The game is fairly stretched at the moment but neither team is taking advantage of the excess space. We really need a goal to get things going here.
@djdeafearz writes on Twitter: "I think Real madrid will shower goals in the second 45m. Trust me." That may be the case but can anyone see where a goal will come from at the moment?
A glimpse of goal for Hguain. A ball was whipped in from the right an the Argentine passes wide from eight yards. Lucky for his he had already been flagged as offside.
A relatively scrappy match so far. Casillas and Joel have not had a lot to do in their respective goals. The game needs an injection of pace.
Madrid's final pass has let them down so far in the game. The attackers are getting in decent positions but the final pass or cross has just been slightly off.
Huuuyyyy! Ronaldo cuts in from the left and rifles a shot at goal that bounces just by the right-hand post. Joel in the Rayo goal was certainly scrambling!
Incisive play on the edge of the Rayo box from Madrid. The ball eventually comes to Ronaldo who attempts to drill a shot on goal but it is well blocked on the 18-yard-line.
Yellow Card Diego Costa
Diego Costa is down in the penalty area after he ran into the back of Sergio Ramos. Pepe and his defensive partner are furious and are in the face of the Rayo man while hes on the ground. He was caught slightly but it was a major overreaction.
Better play from Madrid. Marcelo linked up with Ronaldo down the left wing with a neat one-two before cleverly turning inside into the box but his next touch was too heavy and the ball goes out for a goal kick.
Madrid have had the majority of possession so far in the match but no clear-cut chances so far. Higuain has been slightly isolated as the lone striker.
Ofcourse Pepe is not going to sit out of all the hustle and bustle. Free kick to Rayo down the right after a late foul from the Portuguese. The hosts have had a couple of opportunities to get decent service into the box which they have not took advantage of as of yet.
A bit of a feud is developing between Diego Costa and Sergio Ramos. The Madrid player went down claiming to have been elbowed in the face but the referee is having none of it. Keep your eye on this developing as the game progresses.
Corner kick for Real Madrid that is whipped in with pace by Mesut Ozill but there are no takers for the away side and the ball evades everyone inside the penalty area.
Madrid just enjoying an extended period of possession at the moment just outside the Rayo box. No openings yet but Jose Mourinho's side look lively.
Ohhhh Sergio Ramos takes out Diego Costa with a very late challenge down the right wing. Early booking for the Madrid man and a free-kick to Rayo in a useful position.
Yellow Card Sergio Ramos
Rayo have an early corner kick that is dealt with relatively easily by Real Madrid. The visitors now looking to stamp their authority on the game.
And we are off! Should be an entertaining match this afternoon. Fantastic conditions too as the sun shines brightly on the pitch.
The teams have took to the field now, only a few moments from kick-off.
Real Madrid have won eight of their last nine meetings with Rayo Vallecano but the hosts are on a three-game winning streak so this has the makings of a very interesting encounter.
This is the starting XI of Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Ozil; Higuain
The teams are in and this is how Rayo will be lining up tonight: Joel; Tito, Pulido, Arribas, Casado; Javi Fuego, Movilla; Michu, Piti, Armenteros; Diego Costa.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I will be reporting on the game today. You can follow me on Twitter at @MartinMac1 so feel free to post your thoughts, feelings, and predictions on the match I will post some Tweets throughout the game.
Good afternoon! Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Spanish Primera Division encounter between Rayo Vallecano at Estadio del Rayo Vallecano.
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