Rudiger scrapes Madrid tight win over Mallorca

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Rudiger scrapes Madrid tight win over Mallorca

Real Madrid beat Real Mallorca 1-0 thanks to an amazing goal by Antonio Rudiger. With this win, Real Madrid moved three points ahead of Real Mallorca at the top of La Liga on Wednesday.

With 12 minutes left, the defender headed home a corner kick to end a close game in which Mallorca hit the post twice.

Vinicius Junior came back from an injury just as Real Madrid was having a hard time getting past their stubborn guests at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In the end, Rudiger scored from Luka Modric’s corner kick to seal the win before Girona’s game against third-placed Atletico Madrid later Wednesday.

“I scored last season (against Mallorca) and this year again, I’m very happy because it was an important goal and an important three points for us,” Rudiger said.

It was good for Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti that his team used a set piece to win, just like they did in their last game of 2023 against Alaves.

“We lacked some freshness and accuracy in the final third, but we won because of a well-taken set piece,” Ancelotti told the media.

“There are games like today’s in which dead balls can give you an advantage — we played against a team that defended well.”

It’s been 18 games since Madrid last lost in any tournament.

Ancelotti chose Aurelien Tchouameni, a midfielder, to play with Rudiger in the middle of the defence after his deal was extended last week until 2026.

The Italian had to try new things because David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Nacho Fernandez were all hurt, and Vinicius could play on the left for the first time since November 11.

The Brazilian wasn’t at his very best because he had been out with a leg injury, but Mallorca’s persistent Pablo Maffeo also played a role.

Even fight

Jude Bellingham, who scored the most goals in La Liga, had Madrid’s first chance, but Predrag Rajkovic saved his header from Luka Modric’s dangerous cross.

Once the Croatian player set Vinicius up well, he shot wide of the goal, but Rajkovic was there to stop him.

The 23-year-old played a sneaky nutmeg to get past Samu Costa, who was diving, and fired from the edge of the box, but the Serbian custodian saved it.

But Mallorca had the best chance to score in the first half. Antonio Sanchez hit the underside of the goal with a header, and the ball bounced down on to the line but didn’t go over it.

Another close call for the hosts, who were 14th, came early in the second half when Costa hit Andriy Lunin with a low drive from far away.

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