Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti lauded Vinicius Junior as the “most decisive player in world football” after inspiring Tuesday’s 5-2 Champions League win over Liverpool.
Madrid found themselves trailing 2-0 early on thanks to goals from Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah, the latter coming after a calamitous Thibaut Courtois error.
But Vinicius scored twice before half-time to level the score – his first a wonderful finish into the bottom-right corner, the second a fortuitous goal that involved him blocking Alisson’s clearance into the net.
He then won the free-kick that yielded Madrid’s third goal just after the break and got the assist when Karim Benzema made it 5-2.
Seven players from Europe’s top five leagues have more than Vinicius’ 27 goal involvements across all competitions this term, though Ancelotti would seemingly not swap any of them for the Brazilian.
“Today, in my personal opinion, he is the most decisive player in world football,” Ancelotti told reporters of Vinicius, who became the youngest (22 years and 224 days old) away player to score twice against Liverpool at Anfield in major European competition since Johan Cruyff in December 1966 (19y 233d).
22 – Aged 22 years and 224 days, Vinícius Júnior is the youngest visiting player to score twice against Liverpool at Anfield in major European competition since Johan Cruyff in December 1966 for Ajax in the European Cup (19y 233d). Historic. pic.twitter.com/II8AHGoRCO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2023
“He doesn’t stop. He dribbles, assists, scores. Now he is the most decisive. Hopefully he can continue like this.”
The match was a far cry from the two teams’ previous meeting in last season’s Champions League final, which Liverpool dominated before losing 1-0.
It was put to Ancelotti that Liverpool had changed a lot – regressed, even – since that game in Paris, but he was not so sure and looked to impress on his players that the tie is not over yet ahead of the return leg on March 15.
“I only know that we have taken advantage in these 90 minutes and we have to manage the 90 in Madrid well,” Ancelotti added.
“Liverpool are a very competitive team, who have created many problems for us. Unfortunately, the tie has not ended.
“They are still a great team in my opinion. They play with intensity and a very high pace, it is difficult to see teams like that in Europe.
“They haven’t changed, but we proposed a game plan that was different from the one in the final. Then we played with a low block, and this time our plan was very different.”
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