SEVILLE: Rodrygo hit a brace to earn Real Madrid a 2-1 win over Sevilla in La Liga today, sending his side four points clear of third-place rivals Atletico Madrid.
Real were without injured winger Vinicius Junior, who drew global support during the week after he was racially abused by Valencia fans last weekend.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team were also missing injured duo Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio in attack.
Rodrygo was Real’s only fit regular starting forward.
After Rafa Mir gave the Europa League finalists, who face Roma on Wednesday, the lead, Rodrygo made his chance count with two goals, the first from a freekick.
“It’s hard to choose. They were both nice goals, maybe the second a little bit more but scoring from a freekick is always special,” Rodrygo told DAZN.
“We always practice them and talk about it before, whoever is the most confident takes it and I took the ball.”
Ancelotti took off Rodrygo with 10 minutes remaining.
“I was a bit annoyed with him because I wanted to score one more, a hattrick, but it’s okay, he told me that like this we would win,” said Rodrygo.
Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar rotated many of his usual starting players at a rain-soaked Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium to prepare for the final against Jose Mourinho’s side.
Mir slammed a rebound into the roof of the net to send Sevilla ahead in the third minute after Bryan Gil’s shot was blocked.
Rodrygo should have equalised but fired off-target when well placed, after good build-up play by Dani Ceballos and Lucas Vazquez.
However, the Brazilian soon pulled Real Madrid level from a freekick, curling his effort around the wall and into the bottom corner, wrong-footing goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Mir came close again early in the second half with an effort which whistled narrowly over, before Rodrygo pounced for his second goal.
Set free by Toni Kroos, the Brazilian forward sent Sevilla defender Gonzalo Montiel one way and then the other, before slipping home past Bounou.
It was the Brazilian’s ninth league goal of the season, a campaign in which he has slowly become one of Ancelotti’s most reliable players.
“Rodrygo stood out as the centre forward, he can play there,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“He’s got different characteristics, but with his dribbles around the box, it’s easier to score there than doing it out wide.”
Marcos Acuna was sent off for Sevilla in the final stages for an ugly tackle on Ceballos, leaving his side without much chance of making a comeback.
The red card heated up a previously tranquil match and the players rowed on a couple of occasions during nine minutes of stoppage-time, but Los Blancos were eventually able to seal their win.
Real’s last away game was the trip to face Valencia at Mestalla, where Vinicius was racially abused.
Ancelotti praised Sevilla fans after the match passed without incident.
“The atmosphere changed. Today was a good sign,” said Ancelotti.
“People are starting to understand what you can do in a stadium and what you can’t. We have to continue like this.”
Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey earlier in May but their campaign soured after Manchester City knocked them out of the Champions League, while Barcelona won La Liga for the first time since 2019.
However the victory should help Real finish above city rivals Atletico, who host Real Sociedad tomorrow.
Sevilla started the season disastrously but, after sacking coach Julen Lopetegui and then Jorge Sampaoli, Mendilibar has steadied the ship.
The Spaniard has steered Sevilla to 10th, away from the relegation battle and into the Europa League final.
“We’re a family, we’ve showed it, we’ve had some very bad moments but the last quarter of the season has been spectacular,” Mir told DAZN.
“Now we have the prize of the final, we want to come back here with the cup.”