MADRID: Stand-in coach Santiago Solari was a relieved man after his first week in charge at Real Madrid ended in a 2-0 LaLiga win over Valladolid.
Both goals arrived in the last 10 minutes from an own goal by Kike Olivas and a Sergio Ramos penalty. But it was the result which was all-important in the world and European champions’ regrouping after the dismissed of luckless Julen Lopetegui.
Earlier Madrid had been fortunate not to go behind on two occasions in the second half when Ruben Alcaraz and Toni Villa hit the bar.
Solari said: ““I’d like to win 7-0 and score three overhead kicks but that’s not always football. Sometimes there’s more happiness, more joy, and sometimes you need other things. We needed this win. Football is emotion, personality, self-confidence too. You feel those 80,000, their emotions, and it’s hard.
“The players had patience, they were fantastic and in the end they did it.”
A star was role was taken by Vinícius Júnior, the Brazilian teenager who played more minutes – 20 – than he has all season and whose shot deflected off Kiko Olivas and into the net.
Late goals from Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez allowed La Liga leaders Barcelona to snatch a 3-2 win away to struggling Rayo Vallecano.
Suarez slotted in a cross from Jordi Alba from close range to give Barca a deserved lead in the 11th minute after they had made a flying start but Rayo, 19th in the table, fought their way back into the game and midfielder Jose Pozo fired in an equaliser in off the post in the 35th minute.
Rayo winger Alvaro Garcia then sent stabbed his side in front early in the second half but substitute Dembele got Barcelona out of trouble with a perfectly struck half volley in the 87th minute.
Suarez, who had scored a hat-trick in last weekend’s drubbing of Real Madrid, completed the comeback three minutes later by arriving at the far post to steer in a cross from Sergi Roberto, keeping Ernesto Valverde’s side clear at the summit with 24 points.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid had to settle for a point after conceding a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at lowly Leganes.
In Germany . . .
Borussia Dortmund edged Wolfsburg 1-0 away courtesy of captain Marco Reus’s sixth goal of the season to go four points clear of Bayern Munich.
Dortmund, unbeaten in 15 matches in all competitions this season and with their best start in decades, needed to work hard after Reus headed in at the far post in the 26th minute. England’s 18-year-old winger Jadon Sancho provided the cross for his ninth assist of the season.
The result put them on 24 points, ahead of second-placed champions Bayern, who were held 1-1 at home by Freiburg. Dortmund, who could book their Champions League knockout spot at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, host Bayern in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
In France . . .
Thierry Henry is still waiting for his first win as Monaco head coach after a 1-0 loss at Reims in Ligue 1. Mathieu Cafaro’s 24th-minute effort proved the difference at Stade Auguste Delaune, where both sides ended with 10 men.
Alaixys Romao received a straight red card four minutes after half-time, while Monaco substitute Pele was given his marching orders after collecting two bookings in quick succession.
While Henry’s wait for a victory goes on, there was better news for his old Arsenal and France teammate Patrick Vieira. The former midfielder oversaw Nice’s 1-0 win against Amiens, with Prince-Desir Gouano’s first-half own goal the difference on the Cote d’Azur.
In Italy . . .
Paulo Dybala’s strike inside the opening minute set Juventus on course for their 10th win of the Serie A campaign, although Cagliari made things uncomfortable for Massimiliano Allegri’s men.
After seeing nearest rivals Inter Milan romp to victory against Genoa earlier in the day, Juventus restored their six-point cushion at the top with a 3-1 triumph at the Allianz stadium.
The champions had a dream start as Dybala struck inside the opening minute, but Cagliari came back into proceedings and levelled superbly though Joao Pedro. But the Sardinians were level for just 125 seconds as Filip Bradaric scored an own goal, with the midfielder perhaps fortunate not to give away a penalty shortly afterwards.
Cristiano Ronaldo rattled the woodwork at the end of a first half that was followed by a far-less interesting second period, with the Portuguese setting up Juan Cuadrado for a late third.
Roberto Gagliardini scored twice and Matteo Politano, Joao Mario, and Radja Nainggolan added the other goals as Inter beat Genoa 5-0 for a seventh successive Serie A win.