Madrid: Real Madrid survived an early red card for Sergio Ramos to see off city rivals Rayo Vallecano 2-0 at the Bernabeu on Sunday, matching the wins of La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid over the weekend.
Youth-team striker Alvaro Morata and Ramos scored inside the opening 12 minutes, but Real were checked when their captain picked up two yellow cards in quick succession and was sent off.
The defending champions, currently third-placed, moved on to 49 points from 24 games, four behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, who remembered how to win on the road again when Radamel Falcao opened the scoring in a 3-0 victory at Real Valladolid.
Barcelona are top with 65 points after a 2-1 comeback victory at Granada on Saturday in which Lionel Messi scored both goals.
After a draining midweek Champions League clash with Manchester United that ended 1-1 at the Bernabeu, Real coach Jose Mourinho, in his 100th league game in charge, rang in the changes.
Xabi Alonso was rested and with Gonzalo Higuain, Luka Modric and Alvaro Arbeloa suspended, Morata was given his first league start up front and Kaka a rare run out in the midfield.
The match was only three minutes old when Mesut Ozil’s low cross found Morata in the D and the 20-year-old fired in the opener.
Real threatened to run riot as Ramos headed in the second from an Ozil free kick in the 12th minute.
However, Rayo were let off the hook when Ramos collected two quick yellow cards.