Real Madrid Super Cup hero Vinicius 'no saint' but trying to improve

AFP , Monday 15 Jan 2024

Vinicius Junior admitted he was "no saint" after inspiring Real Madrid to win the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday with a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of rivals Barcelona in Saudi Arabia.

Real Madrid s Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring at Barcelona during the Spanish Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Al Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. AP

The Brazilian winger, 23, is often criticised by opponents for going down easily, confronting officials and humiliating them with dribbles.

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo was sent off for two yellow cards, both for fouls on Vinicius.

Players and staff on Barcelona's bench, including midfielder Sergi Roberto, appeared to remonstrate with Vinicius in the second half.

"I'm very sad because everyone wants to fight with me because they know it will come out in the media," Vinicius told reporters after the game.

"I try to focus on the game to do the best for my team-mates (but) I am not a saint, sometimes I talk too much, do dribbles I shouldn't do, but I am here to improve.

"I want to improve, my team-mates and the coach are showing me what I have to do."

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said he took Vinicius off in the final stages because he was tired.

"I took off Vinicius for all the effort he'd put in, not to avoid problems," the Italian told reporters.

"I took him off for the last 10 minutes. Vinicius has to do his job, which is to make people excited and bring trophies to Real Madrid."

Vinicius was by far the best player on the pitch as Real Madrid crushed their rivals to avenge last year's Super Cup final defeat by the Catalans.

The Brazilian's hat-trick doubled his tally of goals against Barcelona, now six in 16 appearances.

Vinicius celebrated his first goal in the style of Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Real Madrid striker and the club's all-time top goalscorer, who now plays in Saudi Arabia.

"The celebration was for Cris, because he's my idol, and now he is playing here," said Vinicius.

"The people in Saudi Arabia have a special love for me, I am very happy for what we did today.

"To beat Barcelona 4-1 is very hard and today we had an almost perfect game."

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