Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has said that “there wasn’t anything different” for Vinicius Junior after the forward suffered abuse prior to his team’s 3-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
The build-up to the derby was marred when an effigy wearing Vinicius Jr’s shirt was hung by its neck from a bridge, alongside a banner in the red and white colours of Atletico that read: “Madrid hates Real”.
“There wasn’t anything different for Vinicius, he was focused on the match, he wanted to play,” Ancelotti said after the victory, in which Vincius Jr scored Real’s third goal deep into extra-time.
“He was very excited, eager to return to his fans. He played a very good game, fighting until the end. The goal was the reward for the great work he did.
“What happened was lamentable, but he was focused on the match.”
Prior to kick-off, La Liga released a statement condemning “acts of hatred” and promising they would press for a “full investigation in search of the facts and the conviction of those responsible, requesting the most severe criminal sanctions.”
Atletico described the effigy as “absolutely repugnant” in their own statement of condemnation and called for “justice” to “banish this type of behaviour”.
Sections of Real Madrid supporters were heard singing in support of Vinicius Junior before kick-off, and again in the eighth and 20th minutes.
And after the Brazilian capped Real’s victory with a fine solo goal in the 121st minute, he posted on Twitter saying, “Vini LOVES MADRID”.
Vini AMA MADRID 🤍 pic.twitter.com/qw9kfibpA9
— Vini Jr. (@vinijr) January 26, 2023
Vinicius Jr was targeted with racist abuse the last time the two Madrid sides met.
Footage filmed outside the stadium captured monkey chants from some supporters, and more were audible when the Brazil international touched the ball for the first time during a game in September.
The 22-year-old has previously hit out at the racist abuse he has faced as a footballer, saying after that match: “As long as skin colour is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war.”
It was a largely peaceful atmosphere inside the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday as Atletico took an early 1-0 lead through former Real player Alvaro Morata, before the hosts stormed back with three goals to win in extra-time.
Diego Simeone’s side played most of extra-time with 10 men after Stefan Savic was sent off for picking up two yellow cards in the space of two minutes. Afterwards, he complained about the refereeing but said he was proud of his team’s performance.
“We played a very good match, which until the 70th minute with Ceballos’ foul at the edge of the area nobody cares that he doesn’t get the second yellow card and it didn’t happen,” Simeone said.
“A few minutes later Savic was sent off and we were down one man.”
Real join Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, and Osasuna in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, the draw for which will take place on Monday.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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