Vinicius

Vinicius Junior notched a couple of goals to lead Real Madrid to a 1-2 victory over Elche on Saturday afternoon at the Estadio Martinez Valero.

The two finishes from the Brazilian were class, with the second coming after a sending off for Elche’s Raul Guti shortly after the hour mark. The hosts played some bright football for good stretches of the day, but they were ultimately done in by the cutting edge of Vinicius and their own mistakes. A late error from Casemiro and goal from Pere Milla made for a nervy finish, but in the end Los Blancos held on.

Carlo Ancelotti elected to rest talisman Karim Benzema and went with returning Mariano Diaz over Luka Jovic up top, with Brazilians Vinicius and Rodrygo Goes on the wings. Meanwhile, Marcelo also picked up a rare start this season at left-back, while Lucas Vazquez was returned to right-back.

Ancelotti’s plans had to almost immediately change, though, as an injury to Rodrygo forced a chance, with Marco Asensio on as a replacement.

Elche were showing some bite on the counter-attack and Lucas Boye would produce the home side’s best chance of the first half in transition when his stinging right-footed had to be batted away by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Elche would rue the miss, as just minutes later Real Madrid took a 0-1 lead through Vinicius. An error from Elche defender Johan Mojica allowed Casemiro to play a first-time a pass into the Elche area, where it was backheeled by Mariano to the arriving Vinicius, who finished splendidly into net.

As time ticked into the second half, Elche looked to respond and much of the danger generated from the hosts was coming from Lucas Boye, who drew two or sometimes even three defenders to him. There was also a deep cross intended for Lucas Perez that could have resulted in a goal if not for a slight deflection from the stabbing foot of David Alaba.

Yet right when Elche looked poised to draw level, they would hurt themselves badly as Raul Guti picked up a second yellow card and sending off for a foul on Toni Kroos. Ancelotti went right to his bench for the knockout punch, with Ferland Mendy on for Marcelo and Dani Carvajal replacing Lucas Vazquez.

The punishing blow arrived shortly thereafter with another class finish from Vinicius, who took a pass from Luka Modric, fended off a defender and used the outside of his boot to lift a shot over Elche goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to double the lead and make it 0-2.

Ancelotti’s final two changes were Eden Hazard and Eduardo Camavinga for Vinicius and Luka Modric respectively as Los Blancos looked to be on cruise control to the final whistle, but nobody told Elche and in the blink of an eye it was 1-2.

A poor pass from Casemiro deep in his own half was headed down by Dario Benedetto and bounced right to Pere Milla, who shook off Toni Kroos and beat Courtois for the goal.

The late surge from Elche would come up short though, as Real Madrid hung on to pocket the three points.

Match Sheet:

1.- Elche: Casilla; Palacios, Roco, Bigas, Mojica; Fidel (Pere Milla, min. 81), Mascarell (Marcone, min. 81), Raul Guti, Pastore (Gumbau, min. 71); Lucas Perez (Dario Benedetto, min. 71), Lucas Boye (Tete Morente, min. 81).

2.- Real Madrid: Courtois, Lucas Vazquez (Carvajal, min. 64), Militao, Alaba, Marcelo (Mendy, min. 64), Casemiro, Kroos, Modric (Camavinga, min. 85), Rodrygo (Marco Asensio, min. 18), Vinicius (Hazard, min. 85), Mariano.

Goals: 0-1, min. 22: Vinicius; 0-2, min. 73: Vinicius; 1-2, min. 86: Pere Milla.

Referee: De Burgos Bengoetxea (Basque).

Yellow cards: Raul Guti (Min. 8) for Elche, Raul Guti (Min. 63) for Elche.

Red cards: Raul Guti (Min. 63) for Elche.

Stadium: Martinez Valero.

Attendance: 23,010.

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