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Rayo pile more misery on Real 

Madrid, April 29

Real Madrid’s response to Barcelona winning the title was to lose to 19th-placed Rayo Vallecano and fall 18 points behind La Liga’s newly-crowned champions.

A deserved 1-0 defeat at Vallecas on Sunday means Zinedine Zidane’s second term now shows four wins from eight games and a worrying lack of improvement since he returned as Madrid’s coach.

Adri Embarba’s penalty, given after consultation with VAR, was enough for Rayo.

Going down swinging

Six points from safety with three games to go, Rayo Vallecano’s survival hopes are slim. However, the minnows from Vallecas achieved an historic victory Real Madrid on Sunday, their first in La Liga since 1997. Rayo fans and players celebrated wildly at fulltime, as much for getting one over their illustrious neighbours as the potential boost to their bid to avoid the drop. “I dreamt once that I would never beat Real in my entire life but now we have done it I can die happy,” said coach Paco Jemez. 

No Benzema, no hope

Zinedine Zidane was left exasperated with his Real side after their defeat. The French coach was unusually expressive in his dismay with the team’s performance, not shielding his players after their lifeless outing. “We didn’t even create chances, we did nothing well. We have to all be angry with our performance,” said Zidane. “I am angry because we gave an awful image of ourselves.” 

Madrid were missing their key player this season, Karim Benzema. The striker has scored each of the club’s last eight goals. The fact that Benzema is La Liga’s second-highest goalscorer on 21, level with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, shows how he is the anomaly at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Champions League, anyone?

Just like in the Premier League, it seems that no side is good enough to step up and grab fourth place and qualification for next season’s Champions League.

The teams in fourth, fifth and sixth, Getafe, Sevilla and Valencia, respectively, all played on Sunday — and all lost. After Valencia fell 1-0 at home to Eibar, Sevilla had the chance to impose themselves on the race but lost 1-0 at Girona, a team that had not won at home since October.

With both of them beaten, it was down to Getafe to take control but they managed to lose 2-1 at Real Sociedad. Only three points separate the three teams.

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