La Liga: Cristiano Ronaldo scores as Real Madrid make winning start but Atletico Madrid held

Tired champions struggle against Rayo as attack-minded Real grind down Cordoba

Champions Atletico Madrid made a sluggish start to the defence of their La Liga title with a 0-0 draw against Rayo Vallecano while a header from Karim Benzema and a late Cristiano Ronaldo strike helped Real Madrid beat promoted Cordoba 2-0 last night.

Mario Mandzukic missed two clear chances in the first half for Atletico, whose Spanish Super Cup victory last Friday over Real appeared to take its toll as the players looked fatigued in the second half.

"The team played very well, they could have scored in the first half and later what happened is normal. We played Tuesday and Friday last week and put in all that effort," Atletico coach Diego Simeone told a news conference.

"We were better in the first half and had three clear chances and Rayo improved in the second half and caused us problems."

Simeone was absent from the touchline due to a ban from last season and he has been given a further eight-match sanction on Monday for his dismissal and angry reaction in the Super Cup.

Atletico were missing in-form Raul Garcia in attack through suspension and was repalced by Raul Jimenez while midfielder Arda Turan was still injured.

Rayo had a number of new faces but they continued the same possession-based style from last season and also looked more solid at the back.

Mandzukic first failed to hit the target as he stretched for a cross with the goal gaping and then he shot tamely at the keeper Cristian Alvarez, but for most of the time Rayo held their own.

In the second half Rayo began to dominate with Javier Aquino in particular a threat but if Atletico were lacking their usual attacking menace they were typically secure at the back and did not give Rayo many scoring opportunities.

 

REAL ATTACK

It was a more attacking Real lineup with James Rodriguez starting ahead of Xabi Alonso in midfield and they failed to link up well in a scrappy opening spell.

Real began to raise the tempo with Ronaldo and Toni Kroos having shots from the edge of the area which Cordoba keeper Juan Carlos Martin dealt with comfortably and the pressure told with Benzema's goal after 30 mintues - his second goal in 15 games.

The visitors made it difficult for Real after the restart and Xisco thought he had equalised midway through the second half but was called offside.

They gave Real few chances but still Ronaldo showed his quality by taking full advantage of the opening he had with a 25-yard drive into the corner to settle the game in the final minute.

"I have always rated the quality of Karim even though he wasn't scoring," coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference.

"It would be more worrying if he were in top condition at this stage as is the same for all.

"We need to speed up the play more. The most important thing was to start with a win which we did even though we had tos uffer.

"We controlled the game well and tried to mix possession with more direct play."

Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living