Vinicius hat-trick as Real Madrid thrash Barcelona to win Spanish Super Cup

Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward #07 Vinicius Junior on the attack before scoring his second goal during the Spanish Super Cup final football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, on January 14, 2024. AFP

Vinicius Junior struck a first-half hat-trick to fire Real Madrid to Spanish Super Cup glory in a thumping 4-1 win over rivals Barcelona on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.

Robert Lewandowski scored for Barcelona, who had defender Ronald Araujo sent off in the second half on what coach Xavi Hernandez described as the team’s “worst” night.

Rodrygo rounded off Real Madrid’s rout as they won the competition for the 13th time, avenging last year’s final defeat by record 14-time winners Barcelona.

“(Vinicius) needed two or three games to get back to his best level, and he’s back to it,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The Italian has now gone level with Zinedine Zidane on 11 trophies won at the helm of Los Blancos, behind only Miguel Munoz on 14.

“I’m happy, but now we’ve got to go for the 12th,” Ancelotti told Real Madrid TV.

Spanish champions Barcelona were hoping a victory could kick-start their season, as it did last year, but were left soundly beaten, after Vinicius netted two early goals.

“(I’m) disappointed, sad … this is football and today we have to deal with the bitter side of the game,” Xavi told Movistar.

“We had a lot of hope and excitement going into the final and we’ve had our worst game of all of them.”

Xavi turned to a four-man midfield to try and keep the ball to reduce Madrid’s opportunities to counter attack with flying wingers Vinicius and Rodrygo — it didn’t work.

Spain international Pedri started in place of winger Raphinha, who suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final win over Osasuna.

Ancelotti brought in midfielder Toni Kroos, who like in the thrilling semi-final derby win over Atletico Madrid, was jeered by spectators at the Al-Awwal Park stadium in Riyadh, for criticising players moving to the Saudi league from Europe.

One of the first was Cristiano Ronaldo and Vinicius’ celebration brought him to mind after opening the scoring in the seventh minute.

The Brazilian, recently back after injury, was sent through by a perfect pass by Jude Bellingham and he slickly rounded Inaki Pena before slotting home.

Vinicius imitated Ronaldo’s classic jump and spin celebration in homage to Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer.

Three minutes later, Vinicius pounced again, this time set up by Rodrygo who exploited Barcelona’s high line and cut the ball across for his compatriot to slide in.

‘Reset’

Xavi’s side scrambled furiously for a response and Ferran Torres hit the crossbar before Andriy Lunin tipped Lewandowski’s follow up over.

The Ukrainian goalkeeper could do nothing, however, to keep Lewandowski’s vicious volley out in the 33rd minute, hammered in hard and low from the edge of the box.

However instead of fighting back, Araujo swiftly gifted Vinicius a chance to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot by tugging back the forward in the box.

Vinicius drilled his penalty into the bottom left corner for his first Clasico hat-trick to double his goal tally against Barcelona — he had previously scored only three in 15 games.

Xavi rolled the dice in the second half with an attacking triple substitution but Madrid soon had their fourth.

Araujo completed a dismal night by earning a red card as he hacked Vinicius in frustration.

Rodrygo was in the right place at the right time to convert after Jules Kounde blocked a Vinicius cut-back searching for Bellingham.

Kounde cleared a low effort from England international Bellingham off the line as Madrid sought another to rub salt in their rivals’ wounds late on.

“We need to reset ourselves and fight for the three trophies we have left,” added Xavi.

“Football is a game of errors and we did not minimise ours and we maximised Madrid’s strengths.”

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