As Real Madrid win first Copa del Rey since 2014, Vinicius earns spotlight with brilliance and controversy

A brace from Rodrygo Goes lifted Real Madrid to a 2-1 win over Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, securing Real Madrid's third trophy of the season.

Rodrygo put Madrid ahead in the second minute after Vinicius Junior had opened up the Osasuna defence. Karim Benzema -- again set up by Vinicius -- was denied by goalkeeper Sergio Herrera, and at the other end Dani Carvajal cleared an Abde effort off the line, while David Alaba hit the crossbar before halftime.

Osasuna levelled early in the second half, midfielder Lucas Torro shooting low into the bottom corner, but 12 minutes later Rodryo restored Madrid's lead -- after another Vinicius dribble -- to secure the win. The cup win is Real Madrid's 20th Copa del Rey in history, and their first since the 2014-13 season.

Rapid reaction

1. Ancelotti completes two-year trophy haul

It's now a full set for Carlo Ancelotti. In the two years since the Italian manager returned for his second spell at the helm of Real Madrid, the team have won it all, lifting each of the available trophies once. The 2021-22 LaLiga and Champions League double was the most impressive leg of that clean sweep, for sure, but adding the 2023 Copa del Rey -- a trophy Madrid hadn't won since 2014 -- to the collection is a decent coda.

This Copa del Rey won't define Real Madrid's season. That verdict will come soon enough in the Champions League with Real Madrid facing Manchester City in the semifinals starting next week -- particularly now that the LaLiga trophy looks destined for Barcelona. But having reached the Copa del Rey final, it was Madrid's obligation to win it. That's what they do, their impressive record now standing at 20 wins in 24 finals in all competitions over the last decade.

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Ancelotti said before the game that he treats each final like "it could be my last." If Man City eliminate Madrid from the Champions League by City, it might well be given the rumours Ancelotti is being heavily pursued for other coaching jobs. And if so, this was an enjoyable way to go out. Madrid went ahead early, played well and created a steady stream of chances, and had the mental strength to react when Osasuna pulled level.

Ancelotti's team selection felt right, with an in-form, attack-minded front three backed up by the steel of Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde in midfield, while his substitutions -- introducing the experienced Antonio Rudiger and Luka Modric -- helped Madrid see out the game. Whatever happens in the Champions League, this will be a night Madridistas will remember fondly.

2. Vinicius was the final's MVP, and controversy magnet

This was Vinicius Junior's final, in every sense. And you get the feeling it won't be his last. There wasn't a moment when the spotlight was off the Brazilian, whether he was beating defenders, creating chances, or sparking a halftime ruckus in the tunnel.

Three times in the first fifteen minutes, Vinicius caused havoc on the left-hand side. Osasuna's Jon Moncayola -- tasked with stopping him -- just couldn't cope. He was handed a yellow card in the 20th minute for hauling the Brazilian back.

Every time Vinicius got the ball, he looked like making something happen. Midway through the first half he got in again, setting up Benzema. On 35 minutes, he cut inside and shot just over.

There was time for controversy, too. Vinicius appeared to avoid shaking the hands of the refereeing team before the game, was booked before halftime for complaining, and had to be calmed down by teammates Lucas Vazquez and Dani Ceballos, with harsh words exchanged with Chimy Avila on the way down the tunnel.

There's no doubt Vinicius is one of the most thrilling players to watch anywhere in the world right now. But it's an open question whether these clashes with opponents and referees are an unnecessary hindrance, or a part of the package. When he's playing this well though, maybe it doesn't matter all that much.

3. Osasuna play their part in second-ever final

They wouldn't admit it, but for Osasuna, getting to this final was enough of a prize. The club have never won a major trophy and have only played one previous Copa del Rey final in their history, losing 2-1 after extra time to Real Betis in 2005.

This showpiece appearance is proof of the club's upward trajectory under coach Jagoba Arrasate over the last five years -- a journey which started in the second division and now finds them as regulars in the top half of LaLiga -- and whatever happened here in Seville, this was an uncomplicated good news story.

Their route to the final couldn't have been more epic, beating holders Real Betis on penalties in the round of 16, beating Sevilla 2-1 after extra time in the quarters, and beating Athletic Club after extra time -- at San Mames - in the semis.

Their response here to going behind so early was admirable too. Some teams might have crumbled after Real Madrid's goal within two minutes. Osasuna didn't. They dug deep, hung on and briefly found a way back into the game with Torro's equaliser, before Madrid's quality eventually told.

Beating Real Madrid wasn't impossible -- the teams have drawn three times in the league over the last two years, including at the Bernabeu last October -- but it would have required a near-perfect performance from Osasuna. This wasn't that, but it was creditable nonetheless.

Best and worst performers

Best: Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid

Set the tone from the start with the electrifying run which created the opener.

Best: Rodrygo Goes, Real Madrid

Has a knack of scoring big goals on big occasions, and got two here.

Best: Lucas Torro, Osasuna

Gave them hope with a well-struck equaliser.

Worst: Jon Moncayola, Osasuna

Had a very difficult night up against Vinicius.

Worst: Ante Budimir, Osasuna

Wasn't able to cause Madrid's defence too many problems.

Worst: Juan Cruz, Osasuna

Struggled with Rodrygo's clever movement.

Highlights and notable moments

Hopes that underdogs Osasuna would take it to Real Madrid first were quickly dashed within the first two minutes of the Copa del Rey final.

Osasuna did find their chances, but excruciatingly could never finish off, including a one-on-one chance from Abdessamad Ezzalzouli in the 26th minute that somehow didn't make it across the line.

The action wasn't confined to being in between the whistles, either. As the teams headed back to the tunnel at halftime, words were exchanged, notably between Vinicius Junior and Chimy Avila, with Lucas Vazquez separating them.

Did you think the excitement was over by this point? Pfft, hardly!

Lucas Torró, who played for Real Madrid very early in his career but has been a key player for Osasuna, scored a massive equalizer.

Osasuna fans, predictably, went wild.

Some fans lit flares on fire in the stadium, and security needed to extinguish them.

But Real Madrid, being Real Madrid, returned -- and it was again Rodrygo.

Rodrygo became the first player to score multiple goals in a Copa del Rey Final since Lionel Messi.

After the match: What the managers and players said

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez on Vinicius Junior: "He is the best in the world in his position, it's hard to stop him. Those who mark him have to commit a lot of fouls, he complains and he gets a card but I don't understand that -- we have to protect players to put on a show."

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on tensions flaring: "We played well for 30 minutes, Vinicius was unstoppable, and then we lost our nerve a bit, the team wasn't calm, I calmed them down a bit. This team has to do one thing, which is to play football, which we do well. Anything else means losing control, concentration. We have to play football. The second half didn't start well, they equalised, and fortunately then Rodrygo changed the dynamic."

Real Madrid forward Rodrygo on the cup win: "I'm really, really happy. We talked this week about how it had been a long time since Madrid won this competition and I personally was lacking it too. I scored two goals -- it's a very special night for me."

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)

  • Real Madrid wins their 20th Copa del Rey title, their first since 2013-14. They join Barcelona (31), Athletic (23) and Bayern Munich (20) as the only clubs from Europe's top 5 leagues to win its primary cup competition at least 20 times.

  • Rodrygo's goal at 1:47 is the fastest in the Copa del Rey final since Raúl Tamudo scored at 1:32 in the 2006 final for Espanyol vs. Real Zaragoza. It's the seventh goal in the first two minutes of a Copa del Rey Final.

  • Rodrygo's goal is the fastest in his Real Madrid career (all competitions). His previous fastest goal was 3:41. vs Galatasaray in Nov. 2019.

  • Vinícius Júnior has tallied an assist in six straight games in all competitions and has a goal contribution in nine straight games in all competitions (longest such streak of his career).

Up next

Real Madrid: Los Blancos don't get much of a break as they shift their focus to another big competition in the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid host Manchester City in the first leg of the semifinal round on Tuesday, May 9. Their LaLiga campaign resumes on Saturday, May 13 when they host Getafe in Madrid (stream live on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET).

Osasuna: Los Rojillos shift their focus back to laLiga when they host Almeria on Saturday, May 13 (stream live on ESPN+ at 10:15 a.m. ET).