Victory for Vini without Vini | Sports

As if the collective commotion unleashed with Vinicius in Mestalla had caused an alteration of space-time, the Bernabéu seemed to house a formidable anomaly. A game was being played on the pitch, but one of the brightest soccer stars on the planet sat in the box next to Florentino Pérez. An unusual image: an active footballer, at the right hand of the president of Real Madrid, not even in a private box. Vinicius, a player who has not missed a game through injury since tearing ligaments in his right ankle against Ajax, had been left off the list four years later due to left knee discomfort. Precisely in the game after the earthquake. But he was everywhere.

To begin with, on the banner that was hung in the background above the animation stands: “Vinicius we are all, enough is enough”. Then the entire starting eleven came out with their shirt, and after the formation photo the substitutes also joined, and even Mariano, not called up, in jeans. They posed with their backs to the photographers and then the Brazilian appeared on the grass, a little apart, for a brief greeting to the stands before going up to settle in the box.

The teams also had a pose together, behind a banner against racism, the product of another unprecedented movement: LaLiga de Tebas and the Rubiales federation had reached an agreement, under the tutelage of the Higher Sports Council. And so, with the captains also wearing the same anti-racism bracelet, the match circulated in trantra, just with the goal of the next point of the program of events to wrap Vinicius up, minute 20. At that moment, the stands sang his name and he he got up to say hello.

The 1-0 also came with its point of rarity. As if Palazón had fallen in the area due to a blow from Nacho in a Madrid corner, the whites asked to stop. As Gil Manzano dropped the ball to resume play, Kroos suddenly sped up to feed it to Benzema. The Rayo players were still chattering, waiting for the German to play backwards, as is customary. But he looked for the depth of the Frenchman, who combined with Valverde and ended up scoring.

The celebration was also strange. Benzema limped, as if he had been injured in the shot, while Andoni Iraola’s players surrounded the referee trying to understand what had happened to them.

Until then they had not suffered either, and under Isi’s command they had lived quite close to the Courtois area, even with a dangerous shot from Comesaña. The counter worked more for Madrid than the midfield with Modric, Kroos and Camavinga, who has not started on the left side since the debacle in Manchester. Ancelotti placed Rüdiger there, very safe all afternoon, like Alaba and Nacho, the central pair.

Real’s greatest danger, and perhaps the most disconcerting anomaly, came in the race, in a combination between Benzema and Rodrygo. The Brazilian was left alone before Dimitrievski and slipped on the penultimate step before the shot.

Despite the tiring rhythm and the environmental emotions, the brave Rayo de Iraola did not seem willing to simply give up that option with which he came from playing next season in Europe, and which he still has. They were setting the game on fire: a first arreón with Trejo and then two posh forwards, Falcao and the Real Madrid squad player RDT, who equalized the duel.

Then, Rodrygo accelerated again and holed out from outside the area, to end the afternoon where it began, in Vinicius. The celebration consisted of standing still and raising the right fist against racism.

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.