PIX: Real Madrid players, fans rally behind Vinicius Jr

Goals by Karim Benzema and Rodrygo earned Real Madrid a 2-1 win over mid-table Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga on Wednesday as fans and players showed their support for Vinicius Jr who was subjected to racial abuse over the weekend.

Real’s Brazilian forward Vinicius received a tribute ahead of the game after being the target of racist insults during the 1-0 loss at Valencia on Sunday.

“We are all Vinicius. Enough is enough” said a banner displayed behind one of the goals at the Santiago Bernabeu, among many other messages of support for him.

Real’s players took to the pitch wearing shirts bearing Vinicius’s number 20 while the captains of both teams wore armbands carrying anti-racism messages.

Dressed in street clothes and visibly agitated, Vinicius joined his team mates on the pitch for a standing ovation after all the players posed next to an official LaLiga banner “Racists, out of football”.

He was not part of the Real squad for the match even though the red card he received at Valencia was overturned by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Tuesday and the subsequent suspension lifted.

A knee issue forced Vinicius to miss training ahead of the fixture, Spanish media reported, and he watched the game sitting next to Real Madrid President Florentino Perez.

“I was surprised by the decision of the (RFEF’s) competition committee,” coach Carlo Ancelotti told a press conference. “I think it is the right decision.”

He added that the partial stand closure imposed on Valencia as a punishment was an important step forward.

“Hopefully this issue will be solved soon,” he said. “The players around Vinicius feel very affected.”

Many Real fans came to the stadium wearing the Brazilian’s shirt and scarves, sending a clear message that they are unhappy about the abuse he is suffering in stadiums around Spain.

“Vini, it’s my communion. Seeing you is my gift,” one poster held by a young fan said.

The player showed his appreciation for the support he received in an Instagram post after the game.

“I love you all!!! Thank you, thank you and thank you!” he said.

Benzema put Real ahead just after the half-hour mark when he latched on to a Federico Valverde cross on the edge of the box and finished from close range.

Rayo striker Raul de Tomas levelled six minutes from time but Rodrygo restored Real’s lead in the 89th minute, beating keeper Stole Dimitrievski with a low shot from just outside the box inside the right post.

The 22-year-old Rodrygo celebrated his goal with a raised fist gesture, a symbol often associated with social movements including anti-racism.   

With two games remaining, Real provisionally moved up one place to second on 74 points, two points above third-placed Atletico Madrid who visit Espanyol later on Wednesday and 11 points behind champions Barcelona.

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