Real Madrid are back at the top of LaLiga, but they had to settle for a frustrating draw with Girona.
Toni Kroos was sent off in a 1-1 draw against lowly Girona as Real Madrid returned to the top of the table but dropped LaLiga points for only the second time this season.
Vinicius Junior’s ninth goal of the season with just over 20 minutes of normal time remaining put Los Blancos in front at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, that was not enough to secure victory as Marco Asensio was penalized for handball following a VAR review and Cristhian Stuani converted from the spot in the 80th minute.
Rodrygo was denied a late goal and Kroos was sent off for a second bookable offense as Los Blancos had to settle for a result that moved them a point above Barcelona at the summit, while Girona are outside the relegation zone.
Luka Modric fired wide in the second minute of his return from injury before Valentin Castellanos fired a timely warning the other way and narrowly missed the target.
Rodrygo unleashed a screeching right-footed drive that struck Paulo Gazzaniga brilliantly wide of the goal, but Girona continued to look dangerous and captain Valery Fernandez’s header flashed just wide of the left-hand post.
Madrid forward Rodrygo’s strike rattled the right-hand post and Girona’s Yangel Herrera’s left-footed shot hit the crossbar after Fernandez had outplayed Dani Carvajal.
There was a flashpoint early in the second half when David Lopez was perhaps lucky to only receive a yellow card for a clash with Vinicius, who went down and claimed to have been headbutted by the Girona defender.
It was Vinicius who broke through in the 70th minute, Federico Valverde turning away from a defender to slot the striker home from six yards out.
Gazzaniga brilliantly palmed away Asensio’s powerful strike against the post shortly after the opener before the Madrid winger was adjudged to have been tackled in the box following a VAR review.
Stuani sent Thibaut Courtois the wrong way with a superb spot-kick and further drama ensued when Rodrygo found the back of the net but the goal was ruled out as Gazzaniga had a hand on the ball when the striker put him through.
Kroos was then sent off for a second bookable offense after a cynical foul at the stoppage as Madrid slipped.
Real Madrid player ratings vs Girona – La Liga
1. Real Madrid (4-3-3)
GK: Thibaut Courtois – 6/10 – Great save denied Fernandez – though it was called offside, it was extremely tight and could have been reversed. Guessed the wrong way for Stuani’s penalty.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 5/10 – Seemed to be struggling with an injury as he was beaten a few times by Fernandez.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 6/10 – Scuppered one chance late on as the ball bounced off his shins and out of play.
CB: David Alaba – 6/10 – Assured enough from Alaba, though his side still conceded some glaring opportunities for the visitors.
LB: Ferland Mendy – 5/10 – Few questionable moments in possession – including one moment where he dribbled across the area and exchanged dodgy passes with Rudiger.
CM: Luka Modric – 6/10 – Not at his flowing best and struggled to pick passes to infiltrate the Girona defence.
CM: Eduardo Camavinga – 6/10 – One shot from distance flashed wide of the post. Made a joint-team high of three tackles before being subbed after the hour.
CM: Toni Kroos – 4/10 – Bad challenge on Couto saw him booked. Another in second-half stoppage time saw him sent off and soured a textbook passing performance from the German.
RW: Federico Valverde – 8/10 – Great feet in the box to play the ball across for Vinicius to fire in the opener. Dropped into central midfield in the second half and was just as impressive.
ST: Rodrygo – 6/10 – Was Real’s biggest threat in the first half, seeing one effort come off the woodwork. Should have scored the winner before he had to foul Gazzaniga.
LW: Vinicius Junior – 7/10 – Ineffective in the first half but time his run well to score the opener. Came alive after and look threatening but couldn’t force a winner for his side.
SUB: Marco Asensio (61′ for Camavinga) – 4/10 – Butchered one counter-attack when Real had a two-on-one advantage and was then penalised by VAR for handball infringement in the build-up. Tried to up the tempo.
SUB: Mariano Diaz (87′ for Valverde) – N/A – Came on late in desperation.
SUB: Eder Militao (87′ for Mendy) – N/A – Another late sub.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti – 5/10 – The lack of talisman Benzema didn’t help Ancelotti, who resorted to desperate late subs in an attempt to win the game.