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Vinícius nets hat trick as Real Madrid beat Barcelona to win Spanish Super Cup

Vinicius Jr Real Madrid Vinicius Jr - The Canadian Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Vinícius Júnior did his best Cristiano Ronaldo impression in Saudi Arabia, scoring a hat trick and leading Real Madrid to a 4-1 rout of Barcelona and the Spanish Super Cup trophy.

Vinícius scored his three goals in the first half as Madrid beat Barcelona to lift its first trophy of the season on Sunday. After his first goal, the Brazil forward imitated the trademark celebration of the former Madrid great, with Ronaldo reportedly at the Riyadh stadium.

“It was for Cris, because he is my idol and now he is playing here,” said Vinícius, who was named the best player of the final. “I'm very happy with myself and with my team. It's not easy to play against Barcelona and to win 4-1 is tough. We played an almost perfect match.”

Rodrygo also scored for Madrid, which now has 13 Super Cup trophies, one less than the Catalan club. It was Madrid’s second Super Cup triumph since the tournament was moved to Saudi Arabia four years ago. Robert Lewandowski scored Barcelona's goal to make it 2-1 in the first half.

The “clasico” between the Spanish powerhouses was a rematch of last year’s Super Cup final that Barcelona won 3-1 for its first trophy with coach Xavi Hernández and without Lionel Messi.

Madrid had also won at Barcelona in the first “clasico” of the season in October in the Spanish league.

Barcelona played a man down from the 71st after defender Ronald Araujo was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Vinícius. Madrid was already winning 4-1 at the time.

The victory added to Madrid’s momentum as Carlo Ancelotti’s team remains unbeaten in 21 consecutive games in all competitions. Its last setback was a 3-1 loss at Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league in September.

In contrast, the defeat adds to Barcelona’s troubles and increases the pressure on Xavi, whose team hasn’t played well recently. It trails second-place Madrid by seven points in the Spanish league, with Catalan opponent Girona another point ahead at the top having played an extra game.

“We are disappointed and sad,” Xavi said. “We were hopeful of another victory, but in the end it was our worst match. We didn’t get off to a good start and were never comfortable. We have to congratulate Madrid because it deserved to win.”

It didn’t take long for Madrid to take control of the match in Riyadh, with Vinícius scoring his first goals since a long injury absence in the seventh, 10th and 39th minutes. It was Vinícius' third match since being out from November because of an injury picked up with Brazil’s national team in a World Cup qualifier.

“Vinícius is back,” Ancelotti said. “He needed these two or three games to get back to his best form.”

Vinícius opened the scoring after an assist by Jude Bellingham, dribbling past Barcelona goalkeeper Iñaki Peña before finding the open net. The second goal came in a breakaway after an assist by Rodrygo, and the third was a penalty kick he converted after being pulled down by Araujo.

Lewandowski had moved Barcelona within a goal with a shot from inside the area in the 33rd, but Madrid remained in control during the rest of the match to secure a comfortable victory.

Rodrygo’s goal came in the 64th after a pass by Vinícius was deflected by Barcelona defender Jules Koundé inside the area.

Madrid made it to the final by defeating Atletico Madrid 5-3 in extra time in the first semifinal on Wednesday, while Barcelona got past Osasuna 2-0 on Thursday.

Madrid qualified for the Super Cup after beating Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final last season, while Barcelona made it to the tournament as the Spanish league champion.

Madrid also won the trophy when the Super Cup’s revamped “Final Four” format debuted in Saudi Arabia in 2020 in the first of a lucrative multi-year deal for the clubs and the Spanish soccer federation. The move to Saudi Arabia was heavily criticized by women’s and human rights groups for allegedly helping an authoritarian regime clean up its image.

Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, who has criticized the decision by top players to play in Saudi Arabia, was booed again by the Saudi crowd on Sunday.


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