‘Vinicius deserved a night like that’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 08, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:41 AM, April 08, 2021

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS

‘Vinicius deserved a night like that’

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane praised forward Vinicius Jr. for rising to the big occasion after the Brazilian's brace powered a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Tuesday's Champions League quarterfinal first leg.

Vinicius was signed by Real from Brazilian giants Flamengo when he was just 16 and despite showing flashes of brilliance and exceptional dribbling ability, his time in Spain has often been overshadowed by lacklustre finishing.

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Before Tuesday he had scored only 12 goals in 105 Real games while his erratic play led to strike partner Karim Benzema telling teammate Ferland Mendy to avoid passing to the forward during halftime at a Champions League game earlier this season.

But the 20-year-old thrived in the spotlight against the Premier League holders and 2019 Champions League winners, breaking the deadlock with a cold-blooded finish after expertly bringing down a Toni Kroos ball with his shoulder.

"I'm delighted for him, we are seeing some fantastic stuff from him right now," Zidane told reporters. "We know how good he can be when he gets into space, as he showed with the first goal, which was fantastic."

Marco Asensio doubled Real's lead before halftime but Mohamed Salah's strike offered Liverpool a way back into the tie, only for Vinicius to pop up again and deliver a potentially fatal blow to Juergen Klopp's side.

"He was lacking a goal here or there and getting two tonight will really lift his confidence, he deserved what happened tonight," added Zidane.

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