Vinicius Jr scores hat-trick as Real thump Barca to win Spanish Super Cup

Vinicius Junior scored a first-half hat-trick as Real Madrid were crowned Spanish Super Cup champions after a 4-1 demolition of rivals Barcelona in Saudi Arabia.

The Brazilian twice exploited Barcelona’s lackadaisical high line to put Real 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes before Robert Lewandowski halved the deficit just after the half-hour mark.

But Vinicius completed his hat-trick from the spot in the 39th minute, having been hauled down in the area by Ronald Araujo, before Rodrygo completed a one-sided win after the interval.

To compound a miserable evening in Riyadh for Barcelona, Araujo was dismissed in the 71st minute for another foul on Vinicius.

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring at Barcelona during the Spanish Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Al Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Vinicius Junior scored a first-half hat-trick for Real Madrid

How Real marched to Super Cup glory

Real, who trailed 3-2 with just five minutes remaining against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final on Wednesday before triumphing 5-3 after extra-time, continued their recent dominance over their rivals.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side prevailed in October’s El Clasico meeting and are seven points ahead of Barcelona at the halfway point of the LaLiga campaign.

This latest encounter marked a chance for Barcelona to land a blow of their own but Xavi’s decision to employ a risky high defensive line backfired spectacularly as Real hit the front after seven minutes.

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham, right, in action during the Spanish Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Jude Bellingham set up Vinicius’ opening goal in the seventh minute

Jude Bellingham – who at the final whistle celebrated winning his first trophy with Real – split the defence with a sublime pass that allowed Vinicius to round Inaki Pena and slot into an empty net.

Real and Vinicius capitalised again on plenty of space being left in behind as the 23-year-old slid in to convert Rodrygo’s cross.

Barcelona responded well to the double blow as Ferran Torres’ snapshot cannoned against the bar before both he and Lewandowski forced Andriy Lunin into important saves to keep Real two ahead.

Lewandowski’s thunderous volley from the edge of the area after 33 minutes dragged Barcelona back into the contest but the Catalans were the architects of their own downfall moments later.

Araujo paid the price for having his arm around the neck of Vinicius, who went down which saw a penalty awarded and the Barcelona defender booked.

Vinicius made no mistake from 12 yards to re-establish Real’s two-goal lead at half-time.

Real Madrid's Brazilian forward #07 Vinicius Junior congratulates teammate Brazilian forward #11 Rodrygo after the latter scored their fourth goal during the Spanish Super Cup final football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Fayez NURELDINE / AFP)
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Vinicius congratulates team-mate Rodrygo after scoring Real’s fourth goal

Xavi made a triple substitution as Joao Felix, Fermin Lopez and Lamine Yamal were introduced just after the hour mark but it did not have the required impact as Real went further ahead in the 64th minute.

Vinicius was involved again as his poor cross was tamely cut out by Jules Kounde straight into the path of Rodrygo, who drilled beyond Pena from inside the area.

Matters worsened for Barcelona as Araujo missed an attempted clearance and instead brought down Vinicius, with the Uruguayan having to trudge off the pitch for a second bookable offence.

Ancelotti was able to withdraw Vinicius and Bellingham in the closing stages with the job done and attention fast turning to Thursday’s Copa del Rey showdown against Atletico.

Spanish match referee Juan Martinez Munuera speaks with Barcelona's Uruguayan defender #04 Ronald Araujo and Dutch midfielder #21 Frenkie de Jong during the Spanish Super Cup final football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
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Ronald Araujo was sent off for Barcelona in the 71st minute

What’s next?

Real Madrid are back in action on Thursday when they make the trip to city rivals Atletico Madrid in the fourth round of the Copa del Rey; kick-off 8.30pm. Carlo Ancelotti’s side then host Almeria in LaLiga on Sunday; kick-off 3.15pm.

Barcelona are also in Copa del Rey action on Thursday when they travel to Unionistas in the fourth round; kick-off 6.30pm. They then make the trip to Real Betis in LaLiga on Sunday; kick-off 5.30pm.