When Vinicius Júnior picked up the ball in the 72nd minute at La Romareda and ran in on Real Zaragoza goalkeeper Álvaro Ratón, many will have been at the ready with a quip or two about the Brazilian’s errant finishing. However, it’s fair to say he nipped those wisecracks firmly in the bud.
Instead of stumbling nervously, firing straight at Ratón or shooting wide altogether, he steadied himself and dinked in a sublime, outside-of-the-boot strike.
It was a picturebook goal that served to underline that Vinicius is indeed a player with plenty of end product in there, particularly in the Copa del Rey. In the last two seasons of the competition, the 19-year-old has scored or assisted more goals (nine) than any of his club-mates. The Copa certainly seems to be his cup of tea.
By adding greater cutting edge to the attacking verve he was already showing, Vinicius has done his first-team prospects no harm at all as we head into the business end of the season – particularly with fellow forwards Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard currently absent.
“This goal will stand him in good stead,” Zidane said after Real Madrid’s 4-0 win over Zaragoza. Though Vinicius was not included in the travelling party that went to Real Valladolid on Sunday, one of his chief competitors for a place, Rodrygo Goes, was unable to get back to goal-scoring ways at the Estadio José Zorrilla. With the Madrid derby up next on Saturday, Vinicius is pushing hard for inclusion.