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Cristiano Ronaldo leads Real Madrid to a victory over Cordoba, while rival Atletico Madrid fizzles against Rayo

Cristiano Ronaldo (Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images)

After a disappointing World Cup and a chippy loss to Atletico Madrid on Friday, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo looks like he got his wits about him again. (Maybe it’s the new underwear?) The Real Madrid striker nailed a kick from afar to make it 2-0 in the final minute in their La Liga match against Cordoba on Monday. Ronaldo’s 25-yard strike was preceded by a header goal from his teammate Karim Benzema of France.

Despite the win, however, Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti sees room for improvement.

“We need to speed up the play more,” he told reporters at the post-match press conference (via the Independent).

Cordoba put up a fight. At one point, many thought Cordoba’s Xisco of Spain had scored the equalizer to Benzema’s header, but the goal was disallowed because of an offside call.

Meanwhile, Real’s rival, Atletico Madrid, surprisingly tied with Rayo Vallecano. Atletico entered the match as the clear favorite, but missed chances and general sluggish play against Rayo’s defense held them to a draw.

The draw also came as the team took to the pitch without Coach Diego Simeone, who was serving out a suspension handed down to him from Spain’s soccer authority last year after he earned himself five managerial yellow cards. In his place, assistant manager German Burgos stood in. Burgos will continue to act as the interim head coach for eight more games, too, as Simeone serves out his latest suspension, doled out on Monday, after the hot-headed Argentine national slapped an assistant referee during Friday’s Spanish Super Cup match.

Simeone seemed to turn a corner after the loss, though, when he spoke calmly and reasonably about what happened on Monday. He told reporters at a post-game news conference (via Sky Sports):

“The game was clear. In the first half, we were better, we had three clear chances, and then Rayo improved in the second half, we didn’t play against a wall, we played against a team. … I don’t think that having me on the field would’ve improved anything. We came from playing on Tuesday and Friday and the effort from these days could be felt in the second half.”

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.



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