By Fernando Kallas
MADRID (Reuters) -Vinicius Junior’s stunning effort rescued Real Madrid as they fought back to beat Sevilla 2-1 in an electrifying match in the Spanish capital on Sunday to stay top of LaLiga and frustrate the visitors’ hopes of leapfrogging them at the summit.
Vinicius netted the winner with a superb cross shot from outside the box in the 87th minute, completing Real’s comeback after they fell behind early.
Sevilla went in front in the 12th minute with a header from Rafa Mir and Julen Lopetegui’s team almost extended their lead twice but a mistake by goalkeeper Bono allowed Karim Benzema to equalise before halftime.
The goal gave Real renewed energy, and they came back much stronger after the break.
Sevilla did their best to keep Real at bay with a sterling defensive effort in the second half, but the in-form Vinicius scored his ninth goal in LaLiga this season to snatch all three points.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team moved to 33 points from 14 games, four ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad. Sevilla are fourth, with 28 points.
“Great players like Vinicius are like that. If you give them one opportunity, they will punish you,” Real midfielder Casemiro told reporters.
“Vinicius knows that teams will plan to neutralise him because they are aware of his quality, of the momentum he has. He is a top player and he showed why.”
In his fourth season since arriving in Madrid from Brazil as a teenager, Vinicius has been arguably the best player in the league this campaign.
Sevilla boss Lopetegui had sought to neutralise him with double marking and the 21-year-old Brazilian was quiet for almost the entire game.
Yet he only needed one opportunity. He controlled a long pass from Eduardo Camavinga on his chest close to the left touchline, beat the first defender and sprinted diagonally, dribbling past two others before hitting the back of the net with a powerful finish.
A frenzied Santiago Bernabeu crowd gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted five minutes later, as the forward left the pitch sporting a big smile.
(Reporting by Fernando KallasEditing by Toby Davis)Internet Explorer Channel Network