Rodrygo scored twice to secure Real Madrid a 2-1 victory over Sevilla on Saturday in a LaLiga match that was without teammate Brazilian Vincius Jnior due to the public outrage over the racist insults he has experienced.
Vincius did not travel with the club owing to what coach Carlo Ancelotti described as a knee issue, which also prevented him from participating against Rayo Vallecano in midweek. His absence from the pitch comes after a massive uproar in his home Brazil after he was racially assaulted by supporters during last weekend’s encounter against Valencia.
Karim Benzema and attacker Marco Asensio both missed the game due to injuries.
Rodrygo, 22, played well as Madrid’s solitary attacker in a starting lineup that included five midfielders.
Rodrygo, who had a great chance to score early in the game, expressed displeasure with Ancelotti for substituting him with defender Nacho with 20 minutes remaining to help maintain the advantage.
“I wanted a hat trick, but the coach said that was enough,” Rodrygo said.
When questioned about his player’s desire to continue playing, Ancelotti remarked, “He wanted to score, I wanted the win.” We had different interests. But the team is always the most essential thing.”
Sevilla coach José Mendilibar rested several of his key players, including attacker Youssef En-Nesyri, ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against AS Roma in Budapest. Sevilla will be looking for a record-extending seventh Europa League triumph.
Rafa Mir finished off an original attempt by Bryan Gil that struck a Madrid defender and dropped to the striker in the area to give the hosts a third-minute lead.
Rodrygo equalised in the 29th minute with a free kick that he fired around the side of the defensive barrier, catching custodian Yassine Bounou off surprise.
Érik Lamela almost put Sevilla back in ahead in the 36th minute when he struck the post.
Rodrygo scored his second goal in the 69th minute after receiving a pass from Toni Kroos on a break and using a fluid change of foot to glide past defender Gonzalo Montiel before beating Bounou.
With one game remaining, Madrid is now second and Sevilla is tenth. Barcelona won the championship three rounds ago.
The remaining nine games of this last round will be played on Sunday, with seven clubs fighting for relegation.