Updated January 4th, 2024 at 09:43 IST
Rüdiger scores as Real Madrid edges Mallorca 1-0 to secure Spanish league lead in Vinícius' return
Vinícius Júnior returned from injury as Real Madrid overcame Mallorca 1-0, thanks to a late goal by Antonio Rüdiger, to secure first place in the Spanish league halfway through the season.
Vinícius Júnior made his return from injury as Real Madrid defeated Mallorca 1-0 with a late goal by Antonio Rüdiger to guarantee first place at the midway point of the season in the Spanish league on Wednesday.
The home win gave Madrid a three-point lead over Girona, which hosts third-place Atletico Madrid later Wednesday. Madrid has the tiebreakers against Girona.
Vinícius was back in action after an absence of nearly two months because of a muscle injury, but the Spanish powerhouse struggled in attack until Rüdiger broke the deadlock with a header into the top corner after a well-placed corner kick taken by Luka Modric in the 78th minute.
"I’m very happy because it was an important goal and an important three points for us,” Rüdiger said.
The result extended Madrid’s unbeaten streak to 18 matches in all competitions, since a 3-1 league loss at Atletico in September. That was the team’s lone loss in a season in which it has won 21 matches and drawn three.
Mallorca, which twice hit the woodwork at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, stayed in 14th place, four points from the relegation zone. The team coached by Mexican manager Javier Aguirre had won two of its last three league matches — against Sevilla and Osasuna.
Vinícius hadn’t played since November, when he injured a leg muscle while playing a World Cup qualifier with Brazil. He had a couple of clear chances on Wednesday but didn't capitalize on them.
Madrid also had the return of defender Dani Carvajal, but coach Carlo Ancelotti remained without several key players because of long-term knee injuries, including goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defenders David Alaba and Éder Militão.
Celta Vigo defeated Real Betis 2-1 at home with a winner by Swedish teenager Williot Swedberg six minutes into stoppage time.
The result took Celta out of the relegation zone. The Vigo team has won two of its last three league matches after enduring a 12-game winless run in the competition.
Real Betis, winless in five consecutive matches in all competitions, stayed in seventh place.
Published January 4th, 2024 at 09:43 IST