Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Real Madrid: Gareth Bale brace turns game on its head
By Lewis Dean
Last Updated: 23/04/16 10:51pm
Gareth Bale scored twice to rescue Real Madrid in a dramatic 3-2 victory at city neighbours Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
The Welshman scored either side of half-time to help Los Blancos come from 2-0 down at the Vallecas to secure all three points and keep up the pressure at the top of La Liga.
Rayo took a shock lead after eight minutes when Adri Embarba fired home from close range after good work down the left by Bebe.
Five minutes later, they were 2-0 up after Miku benefited from a fortunate deflection to then fire home from six yards.
Bale pulled one back for the visitors after 35 minutes when he got on the end of a Toni Kroos corner before substitute Lucas Vazquez scored a beautiful header shortly after the re-start to draw level.
The former Tottenham Hotspur forward then pounced on a loose pass before sprinting goal bound and firing the winner.
Madrid go clear at the top of La Liga while Rayo remain one place above the relegation zone.
Madrid went into the match looking for their ninth consecutive win in La Liga but were without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who picked up a thigh injury in their mid-week victory over Villareal.
Sergio Ramos was also dropped to the bench for the match as Zinedine Zidane shuffled his pack ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Manchester City.
Even though the momentum seemed to be with Real, it was the hosts who went ahead.
Embarba found himself in space deep inside the visitors' penalty area and fired home after former Manchester United flop Bebe ghosted past Pepe to tee up the Spaniard.
Bebe appeared buoyed from his assist and soon after tested the handling of Kaylor Navas with a stinging effort from 35 yards.
Madrid tried to assert themselves after the goal and Karim Benzema perhaps should have done better when he scissor-kicked over from 10 yards after the ball was lofted over the Rayo defence by Kovacic.
Instead, Rayo doubled their lead five minutes after going in front when Miku found the ball at his feet from a corner before blasting through a crowd of players.
The Venezuelan could count himself fortunate after the ball was diverted into his path by Raphael Varane's face.
Bale was looking lively for Los Blancos and was rewarded with a goal when he met Kroos' corner at the near post to head into the far corner in the 35th minute.
Real manager Zinedine Zidane let out a roar in celebration but was soon left scratching his head when Benzema pulled up with an injury that casts doubt on her fitness for Tuesday's match at the Etihad.
Luckily, the Frenchman's replacement Vazquez made an instant impact and equalised shortly after the re-start when he planted a header past the despairing Juan Carlos in the Rayo goal from a Danilo cross.
Luca Modric came on for Jese, who was starting ahead of the injured Ronaldo, and instantly looked to find Isco in the search for a winner.
That goal came when Bale pounced on a loose pass in midfield and accelerated into the penalty area to fire low and hard past Carlos.