The “most decisive player in world football,” according to Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, was Vinicius Junior, who inspired Real Madrid’s 5-2 Champions League victory over Liverpool on Tuesday.
Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah’s goals, the latter coming following a disastrous mistake by Thibaut Courtois, put Madrid in a 2-0 hole early on.
Before halftime, however, Vinicius equalized for Madrid. His first goal was a beautiful finish into the bottom right corner, and his second goal was an accidental score that resulted from him blocking Alisson’s clearance into the goal.
After the break, he won the free-kick that led to Madrid’s third goal and provided the assist for Karim Benzema to make it 5-2.
Vinicius has been involved in 27 goals this season in all competitions, more than seven players from Europe’s top five leagues, yet Ancelotti doesn’t seem to want to replace the Brazilian with any of them.
“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).
“He doesn’t stop. He dribbles, assists, scores. Now he is the most decisive. Hopefully he can continue like this.”
The game was a far cry from the two sides’ previous encounter in the Champions League final of the previous season, when Liverpool controlled before dropping by a score of 1-0.
Ancelotti was told that Liverpool had improved much, perhaps even regressed, since that match in Paris, but he was not convinced and tried to convince his team that the match was still in play before 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.”