Real Madrid players wore Vinicius number 20 shirts ahead of their win over Rayo Vallecano
Barcelona (AFP) - Rodrygo struck a late winner for Real Madrid in a 2-1 La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday and raised his fist into the air in a nod to team-mate Vinicius Junior.
Brazilian winger Vinicius received racist abuse against Valencia on Sunday, but was watching on from the president’s box because of a knee problem.
Rodrygo struck in the 89th minute to send Madrid second and bowed his head while lifting his fist in a “Black Power” salute.
Karim Benzema sent Madrid into the lead in the first half before Raul de Tomas equalised for the visitors at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Rodrygo deciding the game in the final stages.
The win sent Real Madrid second, a point above rivals Atletico Madrid, who drew 3-3 at Getafe later on Wednesday.
Vinicius was not present on the pitch but was not far from the players’ thoughts, as Madrid lined up before the game wearing his number 20 shirt as a gesture of support.
The forward was sent off against Valencia and although the card was revoked on Tuesday night, he was not able to recover from his knee issue to play.
It was the first time Madrid have played since the abuse occurred and many sports stars and other significant figures across the world have offered Vinicius their support.
Supporters chanted his name after 20 minutes and a banner in one stand read “We are all Vinicius, enough already!”
“I think everyone in football, not just in football, in all of sport, the whole world, (is reacting to) these actions, they should not be allowed,” Madrid defender Dani Carvajal told Movistar after the game.
“We have to all improve, try to make this not happen, because in the end it’s not fair.”
Benzema broke the deadlock by taking the ball around the goalkeeper after Fede Valverde played him through.
Madrid created few further notable chances in a drab performance, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side without a clear goal in the final weeks of the season.
Rayo struck back through De Tomas, and the former Real Madrid youth player did not celebrate his goal.
Rodrygo steered home well from the edge of the box to ensure Madrid had the last laugh and brought Vinicius back into focus with his celebration.
“He’s doing well, all the support he has received in the last days is good for him,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“If he didn’t have the knee problem he would have played, certainly.
“We’ll see how he is tomorrow and Friday to see if we play him on Saturday.”
Ancelotti said he did not see Rodrygo’s celebration.
“I didn’t see the gesture, but all the players are close to Vini, they feel this issue, he’s very affected in this sense.
“They are very good friends, it’s been a bit tough for Vini everything that has happened, and it was to show his closeness to a team-mate.”
- Objectives -
Atletico Madrid's French forward Antoine Griezmann scored but his team gave up a three-goal lead against Espanyol
Villarreal kept their slim Champions League qualifying hopes alive with a 2-0 win over struggling Cadiz, closing the gap on fourth-placed Real Sociedad to five points.
Atletico took a commanding three-goal lead against Espanyol in Cornella but the hosts battled back to earn a point, although they are now three behind 17th-placed Cadiz.
Saul, Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann struck for Diego Simeone’s side, who were lethal on the counter against Espanyol, fighting for their lives.
The Catalan side did not give up and Cesar Montes, Joselu and Vinicius Souza pulled them level in a wild 15-minute spell in the second half.
Getafe’s 1-0 win at Real Betis pulled them up to 16th, although they are level on 38 points with Cadiz, 17th, and Valladolid, 18th, setting up a nerve-racking final two rounds of matches at the bottom.