Real Madrid’s players and coaching staff celebrate with the trophy after winning the Spanish Super Cup final football match against Barcelona at Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Fayez NURELDINE / 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 struck for Barcelona, who had defender Ronald Araujo sent off in the second half on a dismal night for the Spanish champions.
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.
“It was a tough game for us, I think the result is too favourable, given how Barcelona played,” he added.
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.
“We’re raging at the defeat … we have to learn from losses and we have other competitions to play for, I believe in this team,” Sergi Roberto told Movistar.
“Losing against Real Madrid always hurts and I think those two goals in (the first) 10 minutes had a big impact on the game.”
Barca coach 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 goal scorer.
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.
– No fightback –
Xavi’s side scrambled furiously for a response and Ferran Torres hit the crossbar before Andriy Lunin tipped Lewandowski’s follow up over.
Lunin, selected over Kepa Arrizabalaga who let in three against Atletico, produced another solid stop to deny Torres from a tight angle.