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La Liga: Real Madrid continue to dance

Rodrygo and Federico Valverde scored first-half goals as the defending champions won their ninth match in a row in all competitions
Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti
File Photo

AP/PTI   |   Madrid   |   Published 20.09.22, 03:51 AM

Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior didn’t hesitate after Real Madrid opened the scoring at the Metropolitano Stadium. The Brazilian duo went toward one of the corner flags and began doing their samba-like dance moves near the Atletico Madrid fans. With their young Brazilians not backing away from their dancing,  Madrid  beat city rivals Atletico 2-1 in the Spanish League to extend their perfect start to the season on Sunday.

Rodrygo and Federico Valverde scored first-half goals as the defending champions won their ninth match in a row in all competitions. “Dance wherever you want,” Vinicius wrote on Twitter in a message directed at Rodrygo after the game, along with a photo of them celebrating the goal.

The result restored  Madrid as the league leaders after they had been overtaken by Barcelona on Saturday following the Catalan club’s 3-0 win against Elche.  Madrid lead Barcelona by two points. “It was a different game, the Derby is always different,” Rodrygo said.

“This one was even more special because of everything that happened during the week, and we answered on the field.” The buildup to the first Madrid derby of the season had been surrounded by controversy over Vinicius’ dancing during his goal celebrations.

Vinicius, who is Black, had criticised racist language used by a television sports talk show guest about his dances. The 22-year-old forward had said his actions were being criminalised but insisted he wouldn’t stop showing his happiness on the field. Atletico midfielder Koke Resurreccion predicted there could be trouble if Vinicius danced again at the Metropolitano, but there was no major reaction by Atletico players after the Brazilians danced following Madrid’s first goal.

Atletico fans did not hold back from showing their displeasure, though, and some threw objects in the direction of the Madrid players. Before the match, a video posted online apparently showed Atletico supporters calling Vinicius “a monkey” in chants outside the stadium.

Atletico’s second league loss came despite using Antoine Griezmann from the start for the first time this season. Rodrygo was in the starting lineup again to make up for the absence of striker Karim Benzema, who has missed three straight games because of a tendon injury.

Rodrygo opened the scoring with a neat one-timer from inside the area after a perfect lob by midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni over the defense in the 18th minute. Valverde added to the lead off the rebound of a shot by Vinicius that hit the post in a 36th-minute breakaway after an assist by Luka Modric. Valverde, who has scored in three straight games, celebrated his goal by doing a yoga pose.

Atletico pulled one closer in the 83rd with a goal from Mario Hermoso, who was sent off in stoppage time for an altercation with a Madrid player inside the area.

Sevilla held

Sevilla’s struggles continued with a 1-1 draw at Villarreal, leaving the club near the relegation zone and increasing the pressure on Julen Lopetegui.

It was Sevilla’s seventh game without a win in eight matches in all competitions. They sat only one point from the relegation zone after six league matches. Lopetegui, the former Spain and Real Madrid coach, has been under fire because of the team’s poor start and many fans have called for a change in command. Sevilla entered the season amid high expectations after a fourthplace finish in 2021-22. “I’m not going to talk about the future, that’s very complicated,” Lopetegui said.

Real Betis joined Real Madrid and Barcelona as the only teams with five league wins by coming from behind to defeat Girona 2-1.

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