MADRID — Real Madrid continued to struggle in away matches under coach Zinedine Zidane with a 1-0 defeat to second-to-last Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league on Sunday, practically ending the team’s chances of catching Atletico Madrid for second place.
A day after seeing Barcelona clinch its second straight title — and eighth in 11 seasons — Madrid is nine points behind Atletico with three rounds remaining. It can still finish ahead of the city rival because of a better head-to-head tiebreaker.
Madrid, which was coming off a 0-0 draw at Getafe, is trying to avoid finishing third for the second straight season. It hasn’t finished outside of the top two in consecutive seasons since 1973-74.
Madrid is yet to win in four away matches under Zidane, with a loss against Valencia and draws against Leganes and Getafe. It has won all four matches at home with the former France great in charge in his second stint.
Rayo, promoted this season, had won only one of its last 13 matches, with 10 losses.