Vinicius double leads Real Madrid to beat 10-man Elche

AP , Saturday 30 Oct 2021

Vinicius Junior took over the scoring duties from Karim Benzema by netting twice to help Real Madrid win 2-1 at 10-man Elche on Saturday and move to the top of the Spanish league standings.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid s Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team s second goal during the Spanish League football match between Elche CF and Real Madrid CF at the Martinez Valero stadium in Elche on October 30, 2021. (AFP)

Vinicius opened the scoring with a 22nd-minute strike. After Elche midfielder Raul Guti was sent off for a second booking, the Brazilian winger then put the result beyond doubt in the 73rd.

Elche substitute Pere Milla pulled one back with four to play.

The 21-year-old Vinicius once again showed his much-improved finishing. The double took his tally in all competitions to nine in 14 appearances this season, compared to six goals in 47 outings in 2020-21.

Real Sociedad is level on points with Madrid before it hosts Athletic Bilbao in a Basque Country derby on Sunday. After that, Madrid will still have a game in hand.

Carlo Ancelotti rested Benzema ahead of Madrid's Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Madrid's only victory in its previous four league games came last weekend when it won 2-1 at Barcelona.

Mariano Diaz played his first minutes of the season in Benzema's place. The rarely-used striker showed his reflexes were still sharp when he used his heel to knock a pass from Casemiro into the path of Vinicius for him to fire under Kiko Casilla.

Elche almost equalized thanks to Lucas Boye. The striker stole the ball from David Alaba in the box, only for Lucas Perez to waste a back-heeled pass by Javier Pastore that left him alone with only Thibaut Courtois to beat.

Elche was pressing for an equalizer when Guti made a dangerous tackle on Toni Kroos and was sent off in the 63rd.

Vinicius finished Elche off when he chipped the ball over Casilla from a tight angle after Luka Modric played him clear with one touch.

Milla scored against the flow of play when Casemiro's pass near his area was intercepted, leaving the forward alone to beat Courtois.

Madrid lost forward Rodrygo in the opening minutes to what appeared to be a leg injury.

Later, Barcelona plays its first match since the firing of Ronald Koeman when caretaker coach Sergi Barjuan leads the team against Alaves at Camp Nou. Sevilla can pull level with Madrid and Sociedad if it beats Osasuna, while Villarreal visits Valencia.

On Sunday, Real Betis can also pull level with Madrid and Sociedad if it beats Atletico Madrid.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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