Real Madrid moves to the top after seeing off Rayo

Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema fired Real Madrid to a 2-1 win at home to Rayo Vallecano to go top of LaLiga on Saturday.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the 2-1 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.   -  REUTERS

Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema fired Real Madrid to a 2-1 win at home to Rayo Vallecano to go top of La Liga on Saturday although Carlo Ancelotti's side had to face down a late onslaught from its neighbour following Radamel Falcao's second-half strike.

Real had drawn its last two league games at the Santiago Bernabeu 0-0 but got off to a strong start when Toni Kroos drilled a shot into the top corner in the 14th minute after Marco Asensio had cut into the area from the right wing.

Its top scorer Benzema doubled the lead in the 38th by knocking in a defence splitting pass from defender David Alaba.

Real looked to be cruising its way to victory until Falcao came off the bench in the second half and soon scored a header, with the help of a deflection off Alaba, to put Rayo back in contention in the 76th minute.

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It was the 35-year-old's fifth goal of the season since joining Rayo from Galatasaray in September and the Colombian is enjoying an unexpected renaissance with the Madrid minnows, including scoring the winning goal against Barcelona last month.

The goal awakened the visitor and struck fear into the host as Rayo had two late chances to grab an equaliser, Kroos clearing the ball off the line following a goalmouth scramble and keeper Thibaut Courtois tipping an Unai Lopez attempt over the bar.

The win took Real on to 27 points after 12 games, two above second-placed Real Sociedad which has also played 12 but can return to the summit if it beats Osasuna on Sunday. Rayo is sixth on 20 points.

Ancelotti felt his side was worthy of the win despite the nervy ending to the game.

"It's not fair to say we almost drew the game, I saw a team that could have scored five or six goals. We fully deserved the three points," he said.

"It's logical that you get a bit nervous when you concede a goal with 10 minutes to go but overall we played well and I'm happy. It's normal to suffer a bit in football."

Considering anyone associated with Rayo would still have vivid memories of its 10-2 mauling at the Bernabeu in 2015, coach Andoni Iraola took plenty of encouragement from his side's performance even though they left the stadium empty handed.

"The reality is they beat us but we had them on the ropes right until the end," he said.

"The game was very equal, the key factor is they took their chances, especially in the first half. But we fought right until the end."

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