Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and Gareth Bale picked up a pair of assists as Real Madrid raced out to a 3-0 lead away to Rayo Vallecano, but some moments of madness early in the second half saw the hosts score twice from the penalty spot and force their famous guests into a nervous finish in the capital suburbs.
Not even three minutes had ticked off the clock before Ronaldo had his first of the encounter.
After accepting a sublime through ball from Luka Modric, the Portugal captain blew past Alejandro Galvez before cutting in on goal and placing a perfect shot to the far corner of the net.
Xabi Alonso—making his return to the Madrid lineup after a prolonged spell on the sidelines due to injury—dominated the centre of the park during the first half and helped create his side’s second goal when, after stripping an opponent of possession, he swept the ball downfield to Bale, whose accurate cross from the right was headed past Vallecano goalkeeper Ruben Martinez by Karim Benzema.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti opted to remove Xabi Alonso at the break, but the Spaniard’s absence didn’t seem to trouble Los Blancos, as Ronaldo had his second just three minutes after the restart.
Once again, it was Bale proving provider—the Welshman chasing down a lost cause before losing Anaitz Arbilla and passing to Ronaldo for a simple tap-in.
But from there, things got a bit crazy. With Madrid suddenly finding it difficult to control the midfield without Xabi Alonso, the hosts pressed forward and twice in the space of two minutes were sent to the spot thanks to fouls from Pepe and Marcelo, respectively.
Jonathan Viera converted both, and suddenly the Primera Division basement-dwellers were back in the match.
They might even have tied things up in the 65th minute when substitute Alberto Bueno hit the upright, but Madrid managed to survive the late pressure and escape Vallecas with all three points.
Key Player Grades
Cristiano Ronaldo: A+
With Saturday’s brace, he has now made his best-ever start to a club season and will go into next week’s Champions League encounter away to Juventus with five goals from his last two outings. Over the course of the 90 minutes, he attempted eight shots, although he would have surely preferred to have got more than 48 touches—the result of his side’s poor second half.
Gareth Bale: A+
The Welshman is finally rounding into form. For the second time this week, he was a difference-maker for his side, making meaningful plays down the right flank and creating goals for two different players. He even used his right foot to set up Benzema, who is also hitting a purple patch of form.
He did everything but find the back of the net. Throughout the match, he tortured the Madrid left-backs and played in cross after cross that caused no shortage of problems inside the 18-yard box. His 65 touches were also emblematic of just how his side dominated possession at times.
Next up for Rayo Vallecano is a trip to Celta Vigo next Saturday, and they’ll return from the international break with a home match against Espanyol. Real Madrid, meanwhile, will face Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday and will host Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu next Saturday.
Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.