Adrian Embarba kept Rayo Vallecano’s LaLiga faint survival hopes alive as they pulled off a shock victory over misfiring Real Madrid.
Embarba’s 23rd-minute penalty, which was awarded after a video review seconds after Gareth Bale had forced a save from Rayo keeper Alberto Garcia at the other end, was enough to clinch a 1-0 win which left the home side six points from safety with three games to play.
It proved to be another poor night for Zinedine Zidane’s men, who have won only one of their last four league games and now have only a mathematical chance of pipping derby rivals Atletico Madrid to second place.
Rayo were good value for their win at the end of a game during which even the usually imperious Luka Modric failed to shine at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.
They gave as good as they got in the early stages with Jose Pozo testing keeper Thibaut Courtois at his near-post with a ninth-minute strike after Garcia had denied Madrid’s Marcelo.
Courtois raced from his line to prevent Pozo from opening the scoring eight minutes later with Real under genuine pressure, but Garcia had to be equally vigilant within four minutes after Mariano had broken down the right and crossed for Gareth Bale.
However, referee Pablo Gonzales Fuertes’ attention was drawn to an incident in the Real penalty area before the away side broke and having reviewed Jesus Vallejo’s challenge on Javi Guerra, the official pointed to the spot to allow Embarba to send Courtois the wrong way and open the scoring.
Mariano had the ball in the net from Bale’s throughball seven minutes before the break, but from an offside position, and Dani Ceballos glanced a header across goal as an entertaining encounter unfolded at hectic pace.
Garcia needed two attempts to claim Bale’s blistering 48th-minute drive after he had cut in from the right, but Courtois was almost caught out four minutes later when Embarba forced him into a save at his near post from an improbable angle.
The Belgium international was in action once again when wide-man Bebe let fly from distance with 56 minutes gone and with Real labouring, the momentum was very much with their neighbours.
Bale failed to extend Garcia with a 69th-minute free-kick, but although Zidane sent on Brahim Diaz, Isco and Lucas Vazquez in the search for an equaliser, their efforts proved to be in vain with Guerra seeing an 86th-minute effort cleared off the line.
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