Vinícius turns playmaker to cue Madrid's 2-0 win at Osasuna

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Stymied by the goalkeeper, Vinícius Júnior turned playmaker to set up a late breakthrough and help Real Madrid win at Osasuna 2-0 in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Vinícius, who returned after a one-game suspension, led Madrid’s attack with Karim Benzema resting ahead of Tuesday’s game at Liverpool in the Champions League round of 16.

Vinícus has emerged as Madrid’s top scorer with 16 across all competitions. But he failed to beat Osasuna goalie Sergio Herrera on three one-on-one situations before assisting Federico Valverde in the 78th minute at El Sadar Stadium.

Luka Modric played Vinícius clear down the left side of the area. A pair of defenders hemmed him in, but the Brazil forward flipped a pass to Valverde arriving in a second wave to steer into the net.

Marco Asensio added a second goal in injury time after 18-year-old Álvaro Rodríguez stole the ball and assisted his fellow substitute.

Osasuna, which drew at Madrid 1-1 in October, caused Madrid problems all game long with its intense pressure. Moi Gómez, Osasuna’s most incisive player, went close to scoring in the 63rd when the midfielder cut back outside the area and struck the post.

The hard-fought victory closed Madrid's gap with Barcelona to five points before the leader hosts Cadiz on Sunday.


More AP soccer: and

Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press