Football Features

Vinicius Junior “makes the difference” as Real Madrid beat Sevilla 2-1 to go four points clear atop La Liga

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:20, 28 November 2021

Vinicius Junior scored a stunning goal to beat Sevilla 2-1 send Real Madrid four points clear atop La Liga.

Sevilla’s performance at the still under construction Santiago Bernabeu was very impressive in terms of its coherence and solidity, at least for 75 minutes. The last 15 minutes looked more like an attack vs. defence training session as a clearly exhausted Sevilla side retreated towards their own goal, making poor substitutions and ceding the initiative to Real Madrid.

But Los Blancos didn’t look like they were going to do anything either as they, too, were tiring. Usual talisman Karim Benzema wasn’t quite at it (even though he showed good instincts to score Madrid’s equaliser), Toni Kroos’ delivery both in open play and from set-pieces was quite disappointing and the full-backs weren’t providing any quality.

Then Vinicius Junior stepped up to score his ninth goal of his season. That sentence does describe the actuality of what happened, but they do a gross disservice to what actually occurred. Because Vinicius Junior scored nothing less than the goal of the weekend, of the month, hell maybe even goal of the season.

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A booming Eder Militao crossfield pass could just have easily have pinned Vinicius to the touchline. Lucas Ocampos was tracking the Brazilian and the Argentine had been the best player on the pitch up to that point.

But this season Vinicius has not yet met a challenge he didn’t want to meet head-on, so of course he took the Militao pass on his chest. A proactive touch moving the ball forward and completely wrongfooting Ocampos who was trying to press him to the touchline.

With that one move, Vinicius turned the whole Sevilla defence onto the back-foot. It was devastating. From there he ran at the exhausted Montiel and blew by him with little effort at all and, when Jules Kounde didn’t step out to challenge him, he seemed to say “why not?” and launch the ball at the goal.

In seasons gone by, this thing would have ballooned hilariously over the bar. Not this year though; this year it flew off his foot as straight as an arrow and soared gloriously into the back of the net. Bono was at fault for Karim Benzema’s equaliser but there could have been two of him in goal for this one and they still wouldn’t have managed to stop it.

Carlo Ancelotti has harnessed the natural genius of Vinicius’ game and added to it a ruthlessness. A sense of confidence that he can finish. Now Vinicius believes in himself, he bets on himself. Now he has no qualms taking a shot from 25 yards in the 88th minute of a top of the table clash in La Liga. He’s done impressive things so far this season but nothing quite like this.

As Casemiro said post-match when speaking of Vini as a top player: “with just the slightest of chances they make the difference.” Duck and cover, La Liga, Vinicius Junior has well and truly arrived as one of the greatest players in all of Spanish football.



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