Real Madrid kept their incredible undefeated streak at the Bernabeu Stadium alive with a 2-0 defeat of Rayo Vallecano in their La Liga match this weekend.
The home side now haven't lost in over a year at their home ground.
Big questions remained about Madrid heading into this match, given the hosts' struggles throughout the domestic competition so far this season, as well as the fact they played a tough match against Manchester United during the week.
Rayo Vallecano, on the other hand, had been thriving recently in La Liga and looked like a very tough opponent to take down here.
Jose Mourinho's side, therefore, could have been somewhat forgiven for a less-than-perfect start to this one, but Los Blancos fans had little to worry about, with the home side racing away to a two-goal lead inside the opening 15 minutes of the match.
Alvaro Morata netted the opening goal for Madrid in his maiden start for the Spanish champions after just three minutes of play, before an excellent goal by Sergio Ramos doubled their lead after 12 minutes of play.
Only 2 players younger than Morata scored faster in Madrid's history: Olmedo (1948) - Santillana (1972) [@2010MisterChip]2/17/2013, 8:08:27 PM
The home side appeared to be in complete control and headed for a huge and comfortable victory, but all of that changed very quickly with the dismissal of the goalscorer Sergio Ramos. Ramos earned himself two yellow cards in the space of a few minutes to leave his side with just 10 men for the remaining 73 minutes of play—forcing some big chances from the hosts as a result.
Raul Albiol was introduced for the first goalscorer Morata after 26 minutes to help shore up Madrid's defense against a potentially lethal Vallecano attack.
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Sergio Ramos sent off after two yellow cards in 1 minute, quickest double yellow card in Real Madrid's history.2/17/2013, 8:26:39 PM
Yet the dismissal had clearly turned the tide in this one, and Vallecano soon began to dominate possession, creating a number of attacking chances as a result. They would be unable to break Diego Lopez's goal at the back, however, and would enter the half-time interval still trailing by those two early goals.
Raphael Varane had saved what would have been a certain goal for the visitors with a brilliant slide, whilst Trashorras squandered Vallecano's best chance of the half with his shot blazing over the bar. The biggest question would be whether the away side would come to rue those missed opportunities against a Madrid midfield that was still creating chances through Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid clearly came out more organized and disciplined in the second half, under careful instruction from Mourinho, no doubt. Kaka continued to harass the Vallecano defense on the counterattack and keep the home side going forward despite the red card earlier in the match.
Both sides would see golden opportunities to find the back of the net, yet they would not come to be, with either world-class defending or wayward finishing to blame.
The match would finish with the same scoreline as it was after 12 minutes, with Madrid somehow hanging on to record a huge victory for the Spanish giants.
Vallecano dominated possession and attacking chances—finishing with around 65 percent possession for the match, which is a staggering achievement against Madrid—but could not break Los Blancos' defense.
Their one shot on target from their 15 total shots for the match is reflective of just how wasteful they were in front of goal here.
Kaka, Real Madrid: A
It might have been Mesut Ozil who put on two superb passes to give Madrid their two goals to start the match, but it was Kaka who dominated in midfield here.
The veteran midfielder showed his class once again with a scintillating display of composure and attacking dominance on the counterattack, and was the sole reason why the home side didn't end up playing defense for the entire 90 minutes.
In a team that played the vast majority of the match without the football, Kaka was incredibly strong in midfield for the home side and deserves much credit. He did no discredit to his playing future at Madrid with his performance tonight.
Raphael Varane, Real Madrid: A-
The youngster earned somewhat of a surprise call-up here, given his latest match came during the week against United, but Mourinho was proved to be correct once more in giving Varane the opportunity to shine on the world stage.
The defender was excellent against the Vallecano attack, with his slide tackle just before half-time a game-changing moment for the home side's self-belief.
At only 19 years of age, Varane has a long way to go in his development as a footballer, but he has shown great potential throughout his Madrid career so far—the least of which was his complete performance at the back in this one.
Roberto Trashorras, Rayo Vallecano: B-
Trashorras was one of Vallecano's best attacking options on the night with a number of key chances throughout the match, yet he was unable to break the deadlock.
He finished the match with over 100 touches and a staggering 94-percent pass-accuracy rate, as well as four goalscoring chances created to his name. However, what he could not do was find a way to get the ball into the back of the net for the away side when he should have been able to do so.
His best chance came moments before the half-time break, with the midfielder missing what could have been a game-changing goal. Instead of trailing 2-1 at the interval with all the momentum, Vallecano went in still down 2-0 and with nothing to show for their attacking dominance—that, ultimately, proved to be a margin too great to overcome in this one.
He was eventually subbed off after 75 minutes.
What did you make of Real Madrid's fortunate win against Rayo Vallecano?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: