Carlo Ancelotti praised Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde after both players scored twice — with Vinicius named MVP — in Real Madrid‘s 5-3 win over Al Hilal in the FIFA Club World Cup final on Saturday.
Vinicius opened the scoring in the 13th minute in Rabat, Morocco, before Valverde doubled Madrid’s lead five minutes later. Moussa Marega pulled a goal back for Al Hilal before Karim Benzema and Valverde put Madrid 4-1 up, and a late brace from Luciano Vietto — either side of Vinicius’ second — saw an entertaining game end 5-3.
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“Vini is making progress. It started at the beginning of last year,” Ancelotti said in his post-match news conference. “It’s been the same as the progression of the team, winning the Champions League, becoming a world champion now.
“We’re very happy with him, above all because he keeps improving, he’s more efficient, he’s scoring, he makes the difference in every game.”
Vinicius had been in the spotlight this week after being racially abused by a fan during Madrid’s 1-0 LaLiga loss at Mallorca last Sunday.
It was the latest incident in which the Brazil forward has been the victim of racist abuse by opposition fans, but coach Ancelotti denied that the player’s form had been affected.
“Vinicius has had the week we all had, hurt by the loss to Mallorca, but focused on preparing well for this tournament,” he said. “Vinicius won’t play on Wednesday [against Elche in LaLiga] as he’s suspended, I’ll give him a couple of days off. I think that will be good for him but not because he looks tired, not at all.”
Real Madrid have won a record five Club World Cups, while midfielder Toni Kroos is the most decorated player in the competition’s history, having lifted the trophy six times.
Valverde’s brace in the final took his total for the season to 11 goals, meaning he has won a bet with coach Ancelotti, who had joked that he would retire if the midfielder didn’t get into double figures.
“I don’t have to tear up my coaching license!” Ancelotti said. “Federico has had a difficult time, but he’s coming back. He’s scored two goals but it’s also about the energy he brings, with him and Vinicius on the wings, that gives us a lot up front.”