La liga: Real end winless run as new Coach equals record, Barca struggle in victory

Solari

Santi Solari has made a positive start to his tenure as Real Madrid’s caretaker coach, claiming victories over Melilla and Real Valladolid without conceding a goal.

Two wins, two clean sheets for first time since 50s.

And according to the football statistics specialist Mister Chip, the Argentine is the first Madrid boss to come away from his opening pair of games in charge with two wins and two clean sheets for 61 years.

The last man to do so was Solari’s countryman Luis Carniglia back in 1957.

Although it is true that Madrid’s midweek Copa del Rey win came against third-tier opposition, Los Blancos have taken a step in the right direction from the final games of Julen Lopetegui’s troubled reign.

Saturday’s clash with Valladolid may have featured familiar failings such as poor defensive positioning and a lack of tracking-back from the side’s frontmen – but it nonetheless brought their first LaLiga win since September.

Barcelona secured two late goals to beat struggling Rayo Vallecano in a remarkable game, extending their lead at the top of La Liga to four points.

Luis Suarez put Barca ahead from Jordi Alba’s cutback, but Jose Pozo equalised with an excellent 25-yard shot.

Substitute Alberto Garcia tapped home with his first touch as Rayo looked set for a second La Liga win of the season.

But Ousmane Dembele’s sweet half-volley and Suarez’s last-minute strike turned it round once again.

Barcelona are now four points above Atletico Madrid, who drew 1-1 at Leganes on Saturday afternoon, and Alaves, who visit Eibar on Sunday (11:00 GMT).

For a long time it looked as though they were going to suffer a first defeat against Rayo Vallecano since 2002 – but they have now beaten them for the 12th game in a row.

With Barca on the ropes, centre-back Gerard Pique played as an auxiliary forward and headed a cross into Dembele’s pass for a late equaliser – before Suarez stabbed home Sergi Roberto’s deep cross at the back post in the final minute.

That was his fifth goal in two games, having scored a hat-trick last Sunday in the 5-1 win over Real Madrid, and it means Barca have now won five games in a row in all competitions.

Madrid’s third biggest team Rayo had looked on the verge of a famous win after turning the game around following Suarez’s opener.

Moments after missing a sitter, former Manchester City youngster Pozo fired a brilliant effort beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen from outside the box.

Pozo had not been named in the initial line-up, with Alvaro Garcia due to start. But a late change saw Garcia on the bench instead – and when he did come on, he scored 40 seconds later.

Raul de Tomas’ header hit the post, rolled across the goal and was tapped home at the back post by the winger. His previous league goal had been against Barcelona B – last season for Cadiz in the second division.

They bravely pushed for a third before eventually being heartbroken – although Luis Advincula almost scored an injury-time equaliser, with his header saved by ter Stegen.

They remain second bottom of La Liga, with one win from 11 games.

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