Primera Division: Rayo Vallecano claim rare home win
Last Updated: 15/02/15 9:19pm
Second half goals from Alberto Bueno and Gael Kakuta saw Rayo Vallecano beat Villarreal 2-0 to pick up their first home victory in almost three months.
The win brought a welcome end to a three game losing streak for the Madrid outfit, widening the gap between them and the relegation zone to seven points.
Perhaps with an eye on his team's Europa League match with Red Bull Salzburg next Thursday, Marcelino made five changes to the team that beat Granada 2-0 the previous weekend, handing a debut to 23-year-old midfielder Sergio Marcos in place of captain Bruno Soriano, who has been ruled out of action for at least two months with a fractured fibula.
The coach also left key attackers Luciano Vietto and Denis Cheryshev out of his starting line-up for the second league game running, while his opposite number Paco Jemez made four changes to the team that had lost 2-0 at Elche.
Rayo lost this fixture 5-2 last season but the first half was a cagey affair, with the hosts taking the initiative in the play but only managing to create chances from crosses into the box, with neither Leo Baptistao nor Lica able to trouble Sergio Asenjo.
Villarreal showed little sign of the fluid, fast football that has won them so many admirers this season but the best two chances of their first half fell their way.
First Victor Ruiz blazed over from a few yards out following a ball from Marcos, and then Giovani dos Santos was presented with a misplaced pass and rounded Rayo goalkeeper Tono, but could not find the net from a tight angle, the ball instead bouncing across the face of the goal.
Rayo took the lead just six minutes into the second half. Bueno controlled a corner at the far post and was afforded too much time by Villarreal's defenders, allowing him to roll the ball past Asenjo from close range.
Marcelino quickly brought on his artillery in the form of Vietto and Cheryshev, and the pair immediately combined to create a chance, but the Argentinian could only send his Russian team-mate's cross over the bar.
Then Rayo found the all-important second goal. Substitute Manucho headed a long ball towards the byline and Lica stretched to keep it in play and cross to the near post, where Kakuta arrived to side-foot past Asenjo.
Vietto later hit the post at the other end after a fine cross by Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell and was also prevented from converting the rebound due to brave goalkeeping by Tono.
And there was more trouble for the visitors as Cheryshev was forced to leave the pitch with a bloodied head after receiving a boot to the face.