Rayo Vallecano vs. Atletico Madrid: Final score 2-1, Rayo leap back into a Europa League spot

Denis Doyle

Two first half goals were all Rayo Vallecano needed as they held off Atletico Madrid's second half surge and jumped back in to a Europa League spot.

Today was likely not how Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid wanted to start with six match in eighteen day stretch. Two first half goals from Rayo Vallecano were enough for the Franjirrojos as they held on for the victory over La Liga's 2nd place club.

Rayo got off to a flying start taking the lead in the 3rd minute on the counter attack. Piti ran on to an excellent long pass down the left wing, right on the edge of the Atletico box. The midfielder sent a curving low cross that found Lass, who'd gotten behind the Atletico defense, for an easy tap-in past Thibaut Courtois.

There was more good pressure from Rayo in the 21st minute when Alejandro Dominguez worked his way into space at the top of the Atletico box and uncorked a hard shot that forced a nice save from Courtois.

The second goal did come for Rayo in the 32nd minute as once again they were able to take advantage of Atletico's fullbacks playing extremely narrow. Piti's initial ball from the left made it all the way through the box and was chased down by Lass. The scorer of the first goal spotted Leonardo Baptistao making a run in to the box and sent a low pass that Leo was able to get a slight touch on, more than enough to beat Courtois and put Rayo ahead 2-0.

Atletico came close to pulling a goal back in the 63rd minute when Filipe Kasmirski got some space on the left side of the Rayo box. The defender made a great hesitation move that froze the defender, allowing Kasmirski to move in towards the near post. Instead of making a pass two a couple teammates in the box, he went for goal and his attempt was blocked away by Rubén.

Rayo's head coach Paco Jémez missed the final ten minutes or so, unless he was hiding in the shadows of the tunnel, after he was sent off by the match referee for protesting his lack of cards on a couple hard tackles executed by Atletico players. I'm not sure I remember the last time I saw the boss of the team leading 2-0 get marching orders.

Radamel Falcao scored four minutes into stoppage times after a bit of a scramble in the Rayo box, but ultimately it didn't matter as Rayo held on for the victory. If there were any doubts about Rayo's quality, they proved today that they are definitely a team to be reckoned with in the chase for a European spot next season.

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