Real Madrid vs Mallorca Player ratings as late Antonio Rudiger header decides right affair

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Carlo Ancelotti’s side will remain top of the table this week, although it was no easy task on a frustrating night against a well-drilled opposition who even hit the woodwork twice during the match.

Only a handful of teams in La Liga have won fewer games than Mallorca so far this season, but the islanders went into it on the back of two wins in their last three games before Christmas and were closer to breaking the deadlock. in the first half.

Antonio Sanchez’s far post header just before half-time hit the underside of the crossbar and the ball was gratefully grabbed by Andriy Lunin as it rebounded off the goal line.

Overall, the contest became livelier as the opening 45 minutes progressed. Jude Bellingham’s difficult near-post header, easily saved by Pedrag Rajkovic, was the best of a few early chances for a possession-dominated Madrid side.

As the home side probed, Vinicius Junior hurriedly dragged his shot across goal after Luka Modric pushed the ball past a compact defence. The Brazilian missed the target again later in the half when Rodrygo latched onto the ball in Mallorca’s territory, but not long after he forced Rajkovic into a superb save to keep him clean.

Tensions also rose in the final moments before the break, with shouts from the home fans that Mallorca defender Siebe van der Heyden, who was yellow-carded for a stray elbow seconds after the kick-off, was sent off for tripping Rodrygo.

Mallorca, who hit the post at the end of the first half, quickly hit the woodwork again in the second when Samu’s speculative drive from distance caught Madrid by surprise and bounced off the foot of the post. Toni Kroos’ free-kick narrowly missed the target, but the visitors were otherwise too slow to break down Mallorca and create anything of note.

Madrid needed an injection of energy and Brahim Diaz helped deliver it from the bench. Still, the 24-year-old can’t understand how he didn’t put his side ahead after Rajkovic parried Rodrygo’s shot. Brahim pounced on the rebound and somehow headed the ball onto the post.

The pressure from Madrid mounted as the closing stages approached, though still without any real banging on the door, and it was perhaps fitting that it was the breakthrough that secured the breakthrough. Mallorca’s resistance, which had been frustrating for three quarters of the game, subsided and Rudiger stood tall in the middle of a packed box to head in Modric’s pivoting corner.

Real Madrid player ratings

GK: Andriy Lunin – 5/10 – Kind of helpless when the ball struck his woodwork on two occasions.

RB: Dani Carvajal – 6/10 – With minimal width on the right, the onus was on him to put in a hard shift and that was exactly what he gave.

CB: Aurelien Tchouameni – 6/10 – First start since October but it came in an unnatural position due to Nacho’s suspension. Distributed well out from the back.

CB: Antonio Rudiger – 7/10 – Seemed to enjoy his physical battle with Mallorca striker Cyle Larin and then emerged as the unlikely hero with his first La Liga goal in 16 months.

LB: Fran Garcia – 5/10 – Delivery wasn’t the best when he got forward.

CM: Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Showcased some excellent passing without being hugely influential.

CM: Luka Modric (c) – 7/10 – His brain isn’t slowing down even if his body is starting to.

CM: Toni Kroos – 6/10 – Helped control the tempo of possession but didn’t have the incisiveness to make Mallorca really sweat. Sacrificed for a more attacking change.

AM: Jude Bellingham – 7/10 – No customary goal but always looking to be at the heart of what Madrid did. Worked as hard off the ball as he did on it.

ST: Rodrygo – 5/10 – Just lacked the crucial bit of quality when it mattered most.

ST: Vinicius Junior – 6/10 – Back in from the start after recovering from injury. A little rusty in front of goal and understandably only lasted an hour. Still had Madrid’s best chance of the first half.

SUB: Brahim Diaz (60′ for Vinicius) – 7/10

SUB: Joselu (67′ for Kroos) – 6/10

SUB: Dani Ceballas (86′ for Modric) – N/A

SUB: Lucas Vazquez (86′ for Rodrygo) – N/A

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