Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari was impressed by his team's performance at Barcelona in Wednesday night's Copa del Rey El Clasico, singling out Vinicius Jr for particular praise after an assured showing from the teenager.
The two rivals drew 1-1 in the semi final first leg, after Lucas Vazquez's early opener was cancelled out by Malcom in the 57th minute, giving Los Blancos a slight advantage heading into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on February 27.
Speaking to the media after the game, as quoted by ESPN, Solari reserved special praise for the Brazilian starlet, after he proved a menace to the Barça defence throughout. The Spaniard admitted: "I was not surprised as I know him since he arrived. know how he plays football.
"But that a kid of 18 years old plays in this way does not often happen. He deserves a lot of praise, as do his teammates who have taken him on board and helped him."
When asked whether he felt the draw was the right result, he measuredly declared: "It is very difficult to speak about justice in football. We had chances in the first half, with Vinicius Junior, and [Gareth] Bale and Toni Kroos late in the second half. But it was a very nice game of football, swung back and forward.
"The tie is still very open. Both teams have lots of quality and many things can happen in a short time in these type of games."
He would not be drawn into making any comparisons between Wednesday's clash and the last Clasico, a 5-1 defeat that got his predecessor Julen Lopetegui sacked, proclaiming: "Comparisons are never fruitful. Today's game was confirmation that this team are moving very seriously. We always want to win, and we had chances to score a second goal. So we are happy with what we did today."
Solari was also bullish about the form of Marcelo, who struggled to contain the goalscoring Malcom, as he affirmed: "Marcelo is our vice captain, and puts Madrid above everything. And we work hard so that all our players are at their best."