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DUBIOUS DECISIONS BLIGHT ANOTHER GAME AS RONALDO SHOWS HIS GENIUS
- Updated: 27 February, 2012
Most would say that it was never less than absorbing, although others would argue with some justification that it was hardly a classic. However one thing about which everybody seemed to agree at the end of the first meeting between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid in eight years was that the home side did not deserve to lose.
Even the Special One concurred: “A draw would have been fairer because the opposition was fantastic” was the view which Jose Mourinho expressed in the post match press conference, before going on the attack at what he perceived was a poor turnout from his team’s supporters “we are playing in Madrid and only 300 fans turn up……..the supporters have to try a bit harder” and the fourth official “the most arrogant official I have ever encountered in my career.”
Talking of officials, now would seem to be as good a time as any to take the repeatedly hapless Fernandez Borbolán’s whistle and cards away from him, and give him a nice long rest from refereeing in the Primera Liga. Having failed to spot an elbow inside the area by Sergio Ramos on Diego Costa which should have led to a penalty and red card for the Madrid defender, he then booked Costa for protesting.
There then followed a period when he seemed determined to keep his cards in his pocket no matter how grave the infraction, before late in the game he flourished a ridiculous straight red to Michu after Rayo’s leading scorer had quite clearly won the ball cleanly and fairly in a challenge with Sami Khedira. Rayo boss Jose Ramon Sandoval showed admirable restraint in stopping short of criticising Borbolán after the game, although he did admit that he was very much hoping the appeals panel would rescind the red. If they fail to do so, there really will be something seriously amiss.
Even given the narrow pitch and the fantastic noise which the home side’s supporters were expected to generate (they did not disappoint), only the most optimistic of Rayo fans would have believed that their team could give the league leaders a run for their money.
As it turned out, they could even have won the game with a bit more luck and composure in front of goal. In the first half Piti crashed a shot against the inside of Casillas’ left hand post, and after the break Michu missed a glorious chance to draw his side level. Even when down to ten men in the closing stages, the home side again exposed the ‘merengues’’ difficulties at defending set pieces, but Armenteros somehow failed to turn in a corner from the left which was flicked on at the near post from almost on the goal line.
However ultimately one moment of brilliance from a man whose annual salary is nearly double the entire Rayo playing budget for this season was the only difference between the two sides. On a day when some of the big stars went missing, most notably the utterly anonymous Higuain and Kaka who were both substituted long before the end, Cristiano Ronaldo’s audacious back heel won it for the champions elect. He also has the only two other efforts of note on the Rayo goal, both of which were well saved by home keeper Joel. When Madrid need him most, Cristiano almost always delivers.Follow @icentrocampista