Real Madrid nip Rayo Vallecano; Barça still winless away from home

Sports Desk, Nov 6 (EFE).- Real Madrid took provisional possession of first place in LaLiga Saturday with a less than convincing 2-1 victory over upstarts Rayo Vallecano, while Barcelona conceded a stoppage-time equalizer against Celta to remain without an away win.

Vinicius Jr., who has really come into his own this season, put the ball past Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski just five minutes into the match at the Santiago Bernabeu only to see the offside flag go up.

Karim Benzema fired high on a chance a few minutes later before Toni Kroos gave the hosts the lead in the 14th minute on a play that began with a great move by Vini.

Again, the flag went up, but VAR confirmed that the attacking players were onside and the goal stood.

Real Madrid doubled their lead in the 38th minute with Benzema’s goal off a cross by summer signing David Alaba. The Frenchman headed over the cross-bar on a chance to make it 3-0 in the 40th.

Kroos and Vinicius forced saves from Dimitrievski in the opening quarter-hour of the second half.

With 20 minutes left in regulation, Rayo turned to Radamel Falcao and in the 76th minute, the 35-year-old Colombian striker who is enjoying a rebirth with the club from a working-class capital neighborhood headed home to cut the deficit in half.

Thibaut Courtois tipped a blast from Rayo’s Unai Lopez over the cross-bar in stoppage time to secure all 3 points for the Blancos, who improved to 27 points, 2 more than Real Sociedad, who will be in action Sunday against Osasuna.

Vallecano are fifth with 20 points.

In Vigo, Barcelona led 3-0 at half-time on goals by Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay and the Catalan club seemed on the verge of winning away from Camp Nou for the first time in what has so far been a dismal season.

But the tenacious Celta side caught fire in the second half.

Iago Aspas pulled back a goal in the 52nd and Nolito cut the visitors’ lead to 3-2 in the 74th minute.

Frenkie de Jong hit the cross-bar with a shot that would have restored Barça’s two-goal cushion with four minutes left in regulation and Aspas struck again in the 96th minute to steal a point for the hosts.

The result, which leaves Barcelona in ninth place on 17 points, dramatized the enormity of the task facing club legend Xavi Hernandez when he officially takes charge as coach next week. EFE jap/dr

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