Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari applauded Vinicius Junior’s rapid progress following another impressive performance in their 4-2 Copa del Rey over Girona.
The 18-year-old forward played a part in three of the goals at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday night as Real recovered from Alexander Lozano’s early opener for Girona to claim a 4-2 first-leg win in their quarter-final tie.
Vinicius’ impact on the game was undeniable with the teenager’s two assists in the night bringing his tally up to six in the Copa del Rey alone.
And Solari praised Vinicius’ rapid rise at Los Blancos since arriving from Brazilian side Flamengo last year.
“He has really come on,” said Solari on the club website.
“He was showing signs when he joined and he’s now delivering on a regular basis. He’s 18 years old and brings a real freshness, an audacity and is a constant threat. He’s still got a lot to learn and improve on.
“He’s got the backing of the most experienced members of the squad and let’s hope that he continues down this same path”.
In total, Vinicius has managed six goals and 10 assists in 22 appearances for Real across all competitions this season.
Solari added: “He arrived here aged 17 and his progress has been both amazing and surprising.
“We have to look after him and ensure that his potential is maintained over time. His most experienced teammates have to help him, they’re the ones who deserve the most praise for his adaptation”.
Lucas Vazquez, Sergio Ramos (twice) and Karim Benzema were the scorers for Real as they chase a first Copa del Rey title since 2014.
But Solari will not be underestimating Girona ahead of next Thursday’s return leg in Catalonia, despite their 4-2 aggregate lead.
“We’re pleased with the performance, with the effort and the football we played,” said Solari.
“We put in a great display and the players deserve the credit for the discipline and intensity they showed. If everyone ups their game, the level of the whole group improves”.
“We have to go into every game with clear ideas and take them out on to the pitch. To do that, you need the willpower and energy to carry it out.
“That’s just as important as quality, tactics or technique. Football is unpredictable. You might deserve more goals but if you don’t put your chances away and the opposition score theirs, then everything is more difficult. The tie is wide open and it’ll be a great second leg”.