Rayo beat Alaves to climb out of La Liga drop zone
The stands at Vitoria's Mendizorroza stadium here on Monday were sparsely populated at the start of the match as most of the nearly 14,000 ticket holders waited until the 5th minute of play to take their seats amid a protest over the start time of games on weeknights. The protesting spectators missed the first chance of the night, a strike in the 3rd minute by Rayo's Alex Moreno that forced a save from Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.
De Tomas missed the target on a subsequent attack before the initiative shifted to Alaves, led by Wakaso Mubarak, who started putting balls into the area on a regular basis. The Ghanaian's crosses were in vain until the 11th minute, when Jonathan Calleri managed to reach one, only for his shot to sail over the cross-bar.
With a minute left in the first half, Borja Baston's pass found Burgui in the Rayo area, but the Alaves midfielder hit the post and the opening 45 minutes ended at 0-0. Rayo made a furious start in the second half and the post thwarted Adri Embarba seconds before De Tomas smashed a header past Pachecho to put the visiting side ahead 1-0 in the 47th minute.
Far from giving in, Alaves flew forward in pursuit of the equalizer, though none of their efforts created any serious problems for Rayo keeper Stole Dimitrievski. Calleri's shot from outside the area in the 63rd minute didn't even penetrate the Rayo defence and the pressure from Alaves was not enough to stop the capital side from continuing to play out from the back.
Rayo generated several opportunities and it took an alert play by Alaves defender Guillermo Maripan to deny Gianelli Imbula with Pacheco out of position. Alaves had a glimmer of hope in the final stretch after the referee decided to consult the video replay after John Guidetti went down in the Rayo area, but VAR upheld the original decision of no foul.
The hosts remained disciplined on the attack, yet Rayo's five-man back line broke up every Alaves foray and only a fine stop by Pacheco prevented Bebe from scoring for the visitors in the dying moments of the contest.