Real Madrid failed to build on their Clasico triumph and dropped two points in the La Liga title race with a 0-0 derby draw against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Los Blancos spurned plenty of chances as they drove Rayo back at the Santiago Bernabeu, but could not find the last-minute winner they so often manage to produce.
The draw leaves Madrid second, two points behind leaders Girona, who came from behind to beat Osasuna, and two ahead of Barcelona after the Catalans’ lucky win over Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti lined up with the energetic Eduardo Camavinga replacing injured midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, as well as starting Luka Modric in place of Toni Kroos.
Real Madrid took the game to their neighbors from the goal, with Macedonian Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper Stoll Dimitrijevski extremely busy.
He produced a superb save to deny Fede Valverde, who was on target early on after Rayo gave the ball away at the back.
Madrid got an early scare when Jude Bellingham, the league’s leading scorer with 10 strikes, went down with an injured left shoulder.
After a few minutes, the England international recovered and was able to stay on.
Striker Joselu, on loan from Espanyol, headed home Luka Modric’s corner, while Fran Garcia had a low effort after good work from Bellingham to play him in.
Dimitrievsky pulled off a fantastic save to deny Joselu after Vinicius Junior cut the ball back to the Spanish striker.
The Brazilian winger was increasingly involved as the match progressed towards its final stages and struck in the 66th minute, but the goal was ruled out for offside against Joselu.
Substitute Rodrigo Goes sent a cross shot just wide as Rayo went closer at the final whistle.
Vinicius was booked for dissent as his and Madrid’s frustration grew in the face of the visitors’ stout defence.
Rayo dropped Radamel Falcao and Bebe in the final quarter with the chance to grab a late winner, but it was Madrid who continued to drive forward.
Bellingham, who already had several crucial late interventions in matches for Madrid, was unable to repeat his heroics from last weekend when he scored a goal against Barcelona.
Rodrigo went closest for Madrid in stoppage time, back-heeling an effort straight at Dimitrievsky, who was gratefully collected.
Ancelotti said before the game that Brazilian wingers Vinicius and Rodrigo would end up surpassing Bellingham and Joselu this season, but his prediction didn’t come true soon enough.
The dismissal of the match was ugly, with Antonio Rudiger and Florian Lejeune booked after a block, and the Madrid defender is now ruled out for their next La Liga game against Valencia.
Rayo are now unbeaten in eight league games, with their most recent defeat coming at the start of September — and are level with Madrid and Barca on six clean sheets.
“It was a really complete game from the team, we put in a huge effort — we know how difficult this is going to be,” Rayo striker Raul de Tomas told DAZN.
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