Real Madrid remain top of the La Liga table. Against Mallorca, Rüdiger and the aluminum gave the Madrilenians three important points in the title race
Just in time for Christmas, Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who recently signed a new contract, secured a late 1-0 win at Deportivo Alaves to stay top of the table – and naturally wanted to defend their lead in the new year. However, it took some time against an initially courageous Mallorcan side before returnee Vinicius Junior, on for Brahim Diaz in attack, created the hosts’ first good chance in the 20th minute.
Vinicius Junior fails twice
The Brazilian was one of four new players compared to the last-minute win in the Basque Country, after which the already decimated Madrid backline had to make do without Nacho, who was sent off with a red card. Substitutes Tchouameni, Carvajal and Lunin, who had come on for match-winners Vazquez and Kepa, had little to do initially and saw Vinicius Junior’s next shot blocked by Rajkovic after just over 30 minutes (37′).
Batten and post save Real
Just before the break, Mallorca coach Javier Aguirre, who had had to bring on van der Heyden for the yellow card suspended Jaume Costa in the 3-2 home win against CA Osasuna, was able to see some attacking moments from his charges – and they were quite something. Suddenly, RCD turned on the heat and almost turned the game on its head in a brief spell of pressure. First, Antonio Sanchez’s header bounced off the crossbar and onto the line (42′), before Larin shot narrowly wide of the target in the second minute of stoppage time.
Nothing changed in Madrid in the second half. The favorites dominated, but with the exception of an ultimately harmless free-kick from Kroos (53′), they did not really make an offensive statement. It was a different story for Mallorca, who were unlucky again on the counterattack. Samuel Costa took a shot from distance and fired the ball past Lunin and onto the post (54′).
After Brahim Diaz’s incredible miss: Rüdiger redeems Real
An idle 15 minutes followed, after which Brahim Diaz made an early bid for all the reviews of the still-so-young year. After Rajkovic had made an outstanding save from a Rodrygo shot, the hosts’ joker managed to head the ball against the inside of the post one meter from the empty goal, from where it bounced out of the box (69′).
A corner kick, which had already secured victory in stoppage time at Deportivo Alaves, had to come to the rescue once again. This time, however, the protagonists were not Kroos and Vazquez, but Modric and Rüdiger. The midfield strategist fed the defender, who headed in an unstoppable goal to make it 1-0 (78′). A goal to which Mallorca had no answer.
La Liga has a break next weekend, as the round of 16 in the Copa del Rey awaits. Real host CF Arandina (Saturday, 9.30pm), while Mallorca play Burgos CF a day later (12pm).