Tormentor-in-chief Vinicius Jr inspires Real Madrid's thrashing of Barcelona in Super Cup

Brazilian's hat-trick sets up 4-1 victory in Riyadh but antics upset Barcelona bench as Araujo sees red

Vinicius Junior was by far Real Madrid's best player as Barcelona were thrashed in the Spanish Super Cup final. Reuters
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Vinicius Jr conceded he was "no saint" after his hat-trick inspired Real Madrid to a 4-1 win over Barcelona to claim the Spanish Super Cup while his antics also saw Ronald Araujo sent off for two fouls on the Brazilian winger.

Real toyed with last year's champions at Al Awwal Park in Riyadh with Vinicius the tormentor in chief. The 23-year-old helped himself to a first-half hat-trick including a 39th-minute penalty after being hauled down in the area by Barca captain Araujo.

Robert Lewandowski reduced the arrears with a goal on 33 minutes while Rodrygo sealed an emphatic win with Real Madrid's fourth goal midway through the second half.

It was Real Madrid's 13th Super Cup win to take them to within one of their bitter rivals. It is the second time they have won the trophy since it was moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

Vinicius was by far the best player on the pitch but his confrontations with match officials and humiliating opponents with unnecessary dribbles earned the ire of Barcelona.

Players and staff on Barcelona's bench, including midfielder Sergi Roberto, appeared to remonstrate with Vinicius in the second half.

"I'm very sad because everyone wants to fight with me because they know it will come out in the media," Vinicius told reporters after the game.

"I try to focus on the game to do the best for my teammates [but] I am not a saint, sometimes I talk too much, do dribbles I shouldn't do, but I am here to improve.

"I want to improve, my teammates and the coach are showing me what I have to do."

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said he took Vinicius off in the final stages because he was tired.

"I took off Vinicius for all the effort he'd put in, not to avoid problems," the Italian told reporters.

Spanish Super Cup final player ratings

Vinicius' hat-trick doubled his tally of goals against Barcelona, now six in 16 appearances.

He celebrated his first goal in the style of Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Real Madrid striker and the club's all-time top goalscorer, who now plays in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr.

"The celebration was for Cris, because he's my idol, and now he is playing here," said Vinicius.

"The people in Saudi Arabia have a special love for me, I am very happy for what we did today.

"To beat Barcelona 4-1 is very hard and today we had an almost perfect game."

It took Real seven minutes to open the scoring thanks to a magnificent assist by Bellingham.

The England midfielder was surrounded by three players on the halfway line but somehow managed to produce a stunning pass to find Vinicius who took the ball in his stride and effortlessly raced past goalkeeper Inaki Pena to finish into an empty net.

Real's second came from another long pass, this time with Dani Carvajal finding Rodrygo in the right channel. He broke into the box before squaring the ball across the penalty area for a Vinicius tap-in in the 10th minute.

Barca managed to reduce the deficit with a fine Lewandowski strike from a rebound in the 33rd minute.

The momentum was seemingly in Barca’s favour when Aurelien Tchouameni lifted a cross to Vinicius Jr who was held by defender Araujo as he tried to pounce on the ball. Vinicius took the penalty and netted with a tidy finish to the goalkeeper’s right in the 39th minute.

The goal was a hammer blow for Barcelona and Real dominated the second half with Rodrygo hitting their fourth from a rebound in the 64th minute.

The loss will increase the pressure on Barca manager Xavi, who has faced criticism from fans and media who are unhappy with the team's form.

They sit fourth in La Liga on 41 points, eight behind leaders Girona and seven adrift of second-placed Real Madrid.

"We have not shown the level required for a match like this," Xavi told a press conference.

"We played our worst game. We weren't comfortable at any point. Madrid hurt us on the counter. I apologise to the fans because it was hard for us to compete and we showed our worst side.

"We didn’t get off to a good start and were never comfortable. We have to congratulate Madrid because it deserved to win.”

Updated: January 15, 2024, 6:47 AM