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Real Madrid squeeze past Mallorca

Rudiger

Rudiger for Real Madrid

League leaders Real Madrid edged out Mallorca via a 1-0 scoreline to claim their sixth consecutive home victory in all competitions – a result that brings an end to the visitors’ five-game unbeaten run in La Liga.

Real Madrid received a significant boost prior to kick-off following the news that Dani Carvajal and Vinícius Júnior had recovered from their respective injury issues to start the club’s first game of 2024. Vinícius, who had been out of action since November, was presented with a promising chance to mark his return with a goal, but he could only drag his effort off target. With Mallorca proving to be a tough team to break down, Vinícius then opted to try his luck from range, with his powerful strike stinging the palms of the diving Predrag Rajković.

Despite having to weather significant Real Madrid pressure in the first period, Mallorca carved out the best chance of the half when Dani Rodríguez’s inswinging cross was headed against the underside of the crossbar by Antonio Sánchez. The visitors experienced more frustration in the second period as Samú Costa saw his long-range strike thump the post.

As the contest reached the hour mark, Carlo Ancelotti decided to take a cautious approach with Vinícius’ comeback, replacing the Brazilian with Brahim Díaz. The Spaniard went agonisingly close to making a near-immediate impact, pouncing on a rebound from Rodrygo’s shot to divert his diving header against the upright. Fortunately for Brahim, his miss did not prove costly as Real Madrid’s relentless pressure paid dividends in the 78th-minute when Antonio Rüdiger netted his first goal of the season – towering high in the box to glance the ball home from Luka Modrić’s inviting corner.

Los Blancos were unable to add to their tally in the closing stages, but that mattered very little, as they held firm to move three points clear of Girona for at least a couple of hours. As for Mallorca, they remain in 14th place following a fourth defeat in five away league games.

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