Ancelotti hails 'extraordinary' Vinicius as Real Madrid star shines in Benzema's absence

By Sports Desk February 18, 2023

Carlo Ancelotti lauded Vinicius Junior as an "extraordinary player" after the Real Madrid star stepped up in the absence of Karim Benzema.

Madrid's LaLiga top scorer Benzema was rested for the trip to Osasuna on Saturday ahead of Tuesday's Champions League last-16 clash at Liverpool.

Vinicius twice saw goals ruled out for offside at El Sadar and assisted Federico Valverde as Madrid ran out 2-0 winners to cut Barcelona's lead at the top-flight summit to five points.

The Brazil winger created a team-leading three chances for Los Blancos, much to the delight of coach Ancelotti.

"It is clear that Vinicius is a player who makes a difference," the Italian said at his post-match press conference.

"He played an outstanding game. He is an extraordinary footballer."

Ancelotti was less impressed with the manner of Madrid's victory, though, after waiting until the 78th minute for Valverde's opener before Marco Asensio sealed the points 14 minutes later.

"What I liked least is that we have done in the second half what we could have done in the first," he added.

"What I liked most is that the team has not lost its mind and has been patient [in the final stages]. 

"The team has played well. They have had to suffer when they had to suffer and we are very satisfied with that."

Toni Kroos also missed the visit to Osasuna, as well as Aurelien Tcouhameni, but Ancelotti assured Madrid will be prepared for the first leg at Anfield in Europe.

"We had a last-minute problem with Tchoaumeni, but we're fine," he continued. 

"We will go into Tuesday's game with good dynamics. The players are recovering and we will arrive with all the confidence in the world."

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