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 kept his composure to break the deadlock in the 65th minute.
Zinedine Zidane's side, which lost Eden Hazard to injury on the day of the game and was also without midfielder Toni Kroos, again lacked fluidity in attack in its 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 its chances and Madrid was grateful to keeper Thibaut Courtois for tipping over a shot from Raul Carnero to protect its lead.
The Belgian also denied striker Shon Weissman with a save at full stretch earlier in the second half.
Madrid, which rode its luck to beat Real Betis 3-2 last Saturday and drew its opening game with Real Sociedad 0-0, has seven points from its 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.
Zinedine Zidane said his side still has to make many improvements, although he is not worried about its rusty play so early into the new season.
“The win tastes good because this was not a simple night for us,” Zidane told a news conference.
“We knew we would suffer and have a difficult game but at least we've got the points. We weren't brilliant but we've only just started the season, so we need to stay calm and be patient because we know little by little we're going to improve.”
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