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La Liga 2023-24: Real Madrid, Held By Rayo Vallecano, Fall Behind Surprise Leaders

Real Madrid failed to break the Rayo Vellecano defense; El Clasico winner Jude Bellingham struggled to score big again in the La Liga match.

La Liga 2023-24
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Jude Bellingham couldn't come through this time and Real Madrid was held by Rayo Vallecano in their Madrid derby to drop to second place in the Spanish league. The 0-0 draw ended Madrid's perfect record at home and kept it from joining Girona at the top of the standings after 12 rounds. Girona had moved three points clear with a 4-2 win at Osasuna on Saturday. Madrid would have taken the lead on goal difference by beating Rayo. (More Football News)

Madrid controlled most of the match but couldn't capitalize on its scoring opportunities, with both Bellingham and Vinícius Júnior unable to break through the Rayo defense. Vinícius had a goal disallowed for offside in the 66th. Bellingham had a few good chances but wasn't able to find the target. Bellingham has participated in more than half of the goals by Madrid this season and arrived with 13 goals in his first 13 matches since joining the Spanish powerhouse from Borussia Dortmund this season.

In the four games Bellingham failed to score for Madrid this season, the club won only one — against Real Sociedad in September. “We are upset with the result, but not with how we played,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “Sometimes you win a match that you don't deserve to win and sometimes you don't win a match that you deserve to win. We are still doing well in the standings. We are still in the fight. There's no drama." Madrid had won 11 straight against Rayo at home in the league.

The Madrid clubs had not drawn in their last 21 league matches, with 19 wins for Madrid and only two for Rayo. The result extended Rayo's unbeaten run in the league to an unprecedented eight games, with two wins and six draws. The club from southern Madrid had no attempts on target throughout the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

It was the sixth clean sheet for Madrid in the league this season. Its only loss was at Atletico Madrid in the other city derby.    Barcelona, which won 1-0 at Real Sociedad on Saturday, remained in third place, two points behind Madrid. Rayo was ninth.

WILLIAMS BROTHERS THRIVE

Brothers Iñaki and Nico Williams led Athletic Bilbao to a 3-2 win at Villarreal. Nico set up a goal by Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta two minutes into the match and scored the second in the 22nd. His older brother Iñaki added to the team's first-half lead in the 30th which proved enough to end a two-game winless run in the league.

The Basque Country club moved to fifth place, four points behind fourth-place Atletico Madrid, which lost 2-1 at Las Palmas on Friday. Villarreal, sitting 13th, had ended its five-game winless streak in the league with a win over Granada in the previous round. The hosts threatened to grab a point Sunday through goals from Gerard Moreno in the 86th and Alexander Sorloth in the 87th.

VALENCIA EDGES GRANADA

Eighth-place Valencia beat Granada 1-0 with a penalty kick converted by Pepelu seven minutes into first-half injury time at Mestalla Stadium. Granada, which stayed in second-to-last place, loudly complained about the penalty after Valencia forward Hugo Duro was apparently touched in the face by Granada defender Raúl Torrente. It was the third straight league loss for Granada, which hasn't won in nine consecutive league matches.

ALMERIA STILL WINLESS
Almeria's search for its first win of the season will continue after a 1-0 loss at Alaves. The last-place Almeria is the only team without a win after 12 matches, with three draws and nine losses. Alaves defender Aleksander Sedlar scored Alaves' winner in the 79th, and a couple of minutes later had to leave the field on a stretcher because of an apparent knee injury. Alaves, which is 14th, hadn't won in seven consecutive league matches.

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