Rayo set the tone in the early stages and quickly took control of proceedings, playing with intensity and preventing Girona from settling due to their high press. Despite their domination of possession early on, however, the hosts didn’t threaten Paulo Gazzaniga until the 20th minute when Isi Palazón forced the goalkeeper into an albeit easy save from distance. The effort, though, was a sign of things to come, and Los Franjirrojos broke the deadlock just three minutes later through Palazón, whose next long-range drive left Gazzaniga with no chance between the sticks.
Falling behind didn’t seem to impact Girona too much, and they only needed a few minutes to even things up via Tsygankov, who pounced onto a rebound and drilled a shot past Stole Dimitrievski. Still, Vallecano remained in control of the contest on the balance of play and Óscar Trejo, who set up Palazón’s opening goal, restored his side’s lead with a beautiful finish from inside the box. The playmaker could’ve doubled his tally, as well as his team’s advantage, from the penalty spot when Arnau Martínez tripped an opponent inside the box, but Gazzaniga denied him with a beautiful stop.
Trejo was offered a reprieve when the referee ordered a retake due to encroachment, but instead of shooting himself, he played a short pass to Palazón, and the winger could only fire wide. Although Rayo had wasted an incredible opportunity to increase their lead, they deserved to be ahead at the break. Girona, though, made Andoni Iraola’s men rue their missed spot-kick seven minutes after the interval. Tsygankov was again the hero, finishing off a great passing sequence as he netted from close range.
Both teams made substitutions following that strike as they looked to sway the match in their favour, but none of the changes made much of an impact. Ultimately, neither outfit were able to find a winner, meaning Rayo couldn’t close the gap to Villarreal in the race for a top-six finish. Girona, meanwhile, remain in the bottom half of the table, but increased their advantage over the bottom three to five points, albeit having played a game more than 18th-placed Getafe.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Viktor Tsygankov (Girona)