The Tiger who came for free: Falcao is back and scoring in La Liga | Sid Lowe

Rayo Vallecano’s top-flight return was a miracle and now they have signed Radamel Falcao. But all is not well with the club

This was the kind of moment you didn’t want to miss and on the corner of Avenida Albufera and Payaso Fofó street, down in the People’s Republic of Vallecas, the opening bars of the Final Countdown boomed out. Inside, in the front row of seats on the eastern side of the ground where Colombian flags joined tricolours and the smoke smells sickly sweet, the fan in the tiger onesie roared and sang along. Around him, they did the same. Or just laughed. There were 3,280 people, plus a dozen or so gathered in the tower blocks overlooking the wall at one end, all going slightly mad while their striker wore a smile the size of the city he had returned to.

None of this made much sense, but things rarely do down there. The smallest team in the first division, and by a very long way, one that shouldn’t even be there but was somehow promoted through the play-offs, a crumbling club in perpetual conflict and crisis where many of the fans that make the place unique had chosen to stay away, was 3-0 up. Two home games, two wins, seven goals scored, none conceded. And out in the sunshine, that really was Radamel Falcao kissing their badge. He had played 10 minutes and 24 seconds for them and he already had a goal.

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