Real Madrid vs. Valencia: Final score 2-2, brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo goal saves a point

Denis Doyle

Real Madrid were not great on Sunday, but they came from behind to pick up a point on their crosstown rivals.

Atlético Madrid's loss early on Sunday presented a chance for Real Madrid to pull themselves back into the driver's seat in the title race, but they could only make up one point. Valencia put on an excellent performance at the Bernabéu and were only denied all three points by a Cristiano Ronaldo stunner in stoppage time, which salvaged a 2-2 draw for the hosts.

Real Madrid got off to a fast start, with Ronaldo forcing a save by Diego Alves in the 3rd minute, but they couldn't find a goal in the first half. Valencia actually had the best chance from open play of the period, with Dani Parejo nearly scoring off a header in the 16th minute that Diego López deflected onto his crossbar. Ronaldo had a couple of other shots on target in the first half, but Alves was able to deny him on each occasion.

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Valencia went ahead just before the halftime break, with Jérémy Mathieu scoring an excellent header off a free kick. He was able to hold off Raphaël Varane on the edge of the six-yard box to get on the end of a ball and direct the ball into the top corner, sending Los Che into halftime with a lead.

Carlo Ancelotti made a change at halftime, bringing in Ángel di María for Asier Illarramendi. It was a positive substitution, but things didn't turn around instantly for Real Madrid. Lopez had to come up with a big save in the 52nd minute, off a header by Paco Alcácer.

Madrid equalized in the 59th minute through what would normally be a rather unconventional source, but certainly not on current form. Sergio Ramos scored to tally his fourth goal in the last three games across all competitions, finishing off a great set piece routine. Di Maria set up the chance with a cross to the back post for Ronaldo, who headed back across the goal. Ramos was in the perfect spot and finished from just outside the six.

But, stunningly, Valencia were able to come up with a quick answer through Parejo, who opted not to celebrate his goal against his former club. He was a bit lucky to have the ball fall to him -- Sofiane Feghouli's cross was deflected -- but no one tracked his run from midfield and he got onto the end of the ball uncontested before applying the finish.

Valencia nearly held out for all three points, but Cristiano Ronaldo came up big in stoppage time to salvage a draw for Real Madrid. Di María had the assist, but the goal was all about the finish -- a brilliant backheel out of midair. It was a brilliant goal and the point could prove to be important for Real Madrid, but they're more likely to see it as two dropped in the title race.

Real Madrid: Lopez, Marcelo, Varane, Ramos, Carvajal, Isco (Casemiro 72'), Alonso,  Illarramendi (di María 46'), Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale

Goals: Ramos (59'), Ronaldo (90')

Valencia: Alves, Pereira, Bernat, Costa, Mathieu, Keita, Fuego, Feghouli, Vargas (Barragan 90'), Parejo (Vezo 89'), Alcacer (Jonas 67')

Goals: Mathieu (44'), Parejo (65')

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