Real Madrid CF reestablished their grip at the top of La Liga with a hard-fought victory over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu. The match ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts, but it was an intense match that saw the visitors threatening to equalise in the final minutes.

Toni Kroos was not only a master of the midfield on Saturday as he also struck a stunning torpedo of a goal off an assist from Vinicius Junior in the 14th minute. Carlo Ancelotti's guidance has clearly paid off, with the young Brazilian showing more composure in front of the goal with precise finishing and unselfish passing when the situation calls for it. Vinicius also had his chances to score against Rayo, but the opportunity to add to his tally eluded him on Saturday.

Meanwhile, summer arrival David Alaba showed up once more with a brilliant cross that Karim Benzema drilled into the back of the net in the 38th minute. It was his 10th goal in La Liga this season, proving once more that no player is in better form in Spain and perhaps even in Europe at the moment.

Real Madrid looked like they were in complete control going into the half-time break, but the visitors found a second wind thanks to the arrival of substitute Radamel Falcao, who scored a scorching header with 13 minutes to go.

Rayo worked hard to find the equaliser, and they almost got it in the closing minutes if it wasn't for Kroos being at the perfect place to make a goal-line clearance.

After catching up on the number of matches played, Real Madrid have finally put themselves two points ahead of previous leaders Real Sociedad. Sevilla are hot on their heels, and will be level on points if they emerge victorious on Sunday's Andalusian derby against Real Betis.

Toni Kroos
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos AFP / JORGE GUERRER