Rodrygo was the hero for Real Madrid as he netted a brace to secure a 2-1 comeback victory at Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday. The match was marked by the absence of his compatriot Vinícius Júnior, who has faced racial abuse from fans in a recent game at Valencia.
Vinícius did not make the trip with the squad due to a knee problem that also ruled him out of the midweek clash with Rayo Vallecano, according to coach Carlo Ancelotti. His situation has sparked a huge reaction in his homeland of Brazil after he was subjected to racist chants during last weekend’s match.
Real Madrid were also without their star striker Karim Benzema and winger Marco Asensio, who were injured.
The 22-year-old Rodrygo stepped up as the lone forward in Madrid’s starting lineup, which featured five midfielders.
Rodrygo, who wasted a clear chance to score early on, said he was a bit angry with Ancelotti for taking him off with 20 minutes left to play to defend the lead.
“I wanted a hat trick, but the coach said that was enough,” Rodrygo said.
Ancelotti, when asked about his player’s ambition, said: “He wanted to score, I wanted the win. We had different interests. But the team is always most important thing.”
Sevilla coach José Mendilibar, who has turned the team around since his arrival two months ago, rested some of his key players like striker Youssef En-Nesyri ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against AS Roma in Budapest. Sevilla will be aiming to win a record-extending seventh Europa League title.
Rafa Mir put Sevilla ahead in the third minute after he pounced on a rebound from Bryan Gil’s shot that hit a Madrid defender in the box.
Rodrygo leveled the score in the 29th with a free kick that he curled around the wall and caught goalkeeper Yassine Bounou by surprise.
Érik Lamela almost restored Sevilla’s lead when he hit the post in the 36th.
Rodrygo scored his second in the 69th after he received a pass from Toni Kroos on a counterattack and used a clever change of direction to dribble past defender Gonzalo Montiel before slotting past Bounou.
Sevilla’s Marcos Ocuña was sent off for a straight red card in the 84th after his studs-up tackle on Dani Ceballos.
The win left Madrid in second place and Sevilla in 10th with one game left. Barcelona clinched the title three rounds ago.
The other nine games of this penultimate round will be played simultaneously on Sunday with seven teams involved in the relegation battle.