Vinicius has final say as Real Madrid sink rivals Atletico in Copa del Rey
Madrid, Jan 26, 2023 (AFP) - Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior's extra-time strikes earned Real Madrid a 3-1 win over rivals Atletico Madrid on Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
The Brazilian winger's goal was a particularly sweet one for him after a crude effigy with his shirt on was hung from a bridge near Real Madrid's training ground before the game. His club described the incident as "a disgusting act of racism, xenophobia and hatred."
"There's only one Madrid. We all know," wrote Vinicius on Twitter after his side eliminated their city rivals.
The spiky, gripping derby clash turned against Diego Simeone's side in the additional period when defender Stefan Savic was sent off.
Atletico took the lead through Alvaro Morata after 19 minutes but Rodrygo's sensational slalom run past three defenders and slick finish pulled Madrid level with 11 minutes remaining.
After Savic's 99th minute red card, Benzema tucked home from Marco Asensio's pass and Vinicius netted at the death to send Los Blancos through to the final four for the first time since 2019.
"Today we had a very difficult game but with the character and the players that we have, we were able to turn it around," Benzema told Teledeporte.
"Suffering is not good -- we have to score the goals earlier."
The build-up to the derby was tainted by the Vinicius effigy being strung up overnight.
Madrid fans had planned to sing Vinicius' name in support in the 20th minute, matching his shirt number, but were stunned into silence by Morata's goal moments before.
Atletico, hitting their best form of the season, conjured a brilliant move to break the deadlock, with Morata tapping home after Koke's dink allowed Nahuel Molina to stroke a first-time cross to the back post.
Eder Militao might have equalised but headed over from point-blank range, the ball deflecting slightly behind his leap to make the chance harder.
Antoine Griezmann was moving with freedom between the lines, relishing his new deeper role and pulling the strings for Atletico as they dominated the first half.
Madrid added another name to a long injury list when Ferland Mendy had to be replaced before half-time, with Eduardo Camavinga slotting in at left back and Dani Ceballos coming on.
Jan Oblak produced a fine save to deny Benzema in the second half, with Vinicius unable to react quickly enough to finish from the rebound.
At the other end, Axel Witsel sent an overhead kick narrowly wide and Thibaut Courtois tipped a vicious Griezmann free kick over as Atletico tried and failed to kill off the game.
Rodrygo levelled with 11 minutes to go with his jinking solo effort and subtle near-post finish, taking the clash to extra-time.
Atletico defender Savic foolishly handed Madrid the edge when he was sent off for two yellow cards in two minutes.
The first came during an argument with Vinicius and the second for fouling Camavinga.
"The referee was phenomenal, Savic's red card was clear, he arrived late and he brought down Camavinga," Ceballos told Teledeporte.
Atletico players claimed that Ceballos himself should have been sent off earlier when he fouled Geoffrey Kondogbia while on a yellow card.
"I think it was a red (for Savic), but they should have had one too when we were 1-0 up," complained Atletico goalkeeper Oblak.
"They could have had a second yellow but (the referee) decided it how he decided, we are used to that, and it's complicated, but the team fought to the end, we did everything to score."
With an extra man Madrid immediately began to capitalise when Vinicius crossed for Antonio Rudiger, who headed narrowly wide.
Benzema struck lethally after 104 minutes when Vinicius miskicked Marco Asensio's cross and the ball travelled through to the striker.
Madrid, who last won the Copa del Rey in 2014, kept Atletico at bay in the final 15 minutes before Vinicius dribbled through and fired home to clinch the victory -- celebrating with a now customary dance routine.
Earlier Athletic Bilbao won 3-1 at Valencia to join record 31-time winners Barcelona and Osasuna in Monday's semi-final draw.