Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. came off the bench to fire his side to a scrappy 1-0 home victory over Real Valladolid in La Liga on Wednesday as the champions once again found a way to win despite failing to sparkle.
The Brazilian, who replaced the ineffective Luka Jovic, fought to win the ball back on the edge of the area and after it bounced into his path off a Valladolid defender he kept his composure to break the deadlock in the 65th minute.
Zinedine Zidane’s side, who lost Eden Hazard to injury on the day of the game and were also without midfielder Toni Kroos, again lacked fluidity in attack in their third match of the season but just about deserved the win.
Serbian forward Jovic had forced two smart saves from Valladolid keeper Roberto Jimenez while Casemiro rattled the underside of the crossbar just before Vinicius struck.
Luka Modric hit the post in the closing stages and Vinicius should have scored a second goal in added time but fired straight at Jimenez.
Valladolid had also had their chances and Madrid were grateful to keeper Thibaut Courtois for tipping over a shot from Raul Carnero to protect their lead.
The Belgian also denied striker Shon Weissman with a save at full stretch earlier in the second half.
Madrid, who rode their luck to beat Real Betis 3-2 last Saturday and drew their opening game with Real Sociedad 0-0, have seven points from their first three games.
“The important thing is that we managed to win,” said Vinicius.
“We have had hardly any time to train, we didn’t play any pre-season games so this is why we are struggling to control matches. But I’m happy with how we played today.”
Valladolid keeper Jimenez cursed the defensive slip which allowed Vinicius to score.
“We were very solid throughout the game which is how we wanted to be but against Madrid you always pay a heavy price if you make any mistakes,” he said.