MADRID (AP) — Vinícius Júnior’s day started with him being the target of an apparent hate crime.
It ended with the Brazil forward scoring a goal to help Real Madrid secure a spot in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.
Vinicius scored late in extra time to seal a 3-1 come-from-behind win over Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The buildup to the game between the two fierce rivals was marred after a dummy of Vinícius was hanged from a highway bridge early Thursday, along with a banner with the words “Madrid hates Real,” drawing condemnation by both clubs and soccer officials across the nation.
“There is only one Madrid, everyone knows it,” Vinícius said on Twitter after the match.
In another post, he wrote: “Vini LOVES MADRID.”
Vinicius, who was also targeted by racist chants from Atletico supporters earlier this season, put the finishing touch on an intense, back-and-forth match. After the game finished 1-1 in regulation, Karim Benzema had put Madrid ahead in the first half of extra time with his seventh goal in seven matches since the World Cup.
“There wasn’t anything different for Vinícius, he was focused on the match, he wanted to play,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “What happened was lamentable, but it’s in the past.”
It was a peaceful atmosphere among fans inside the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, and the few hundred Atletico supporters who had tickets for the match celebrated early as Álvaro Morata put their team ahead in the first half. But substitute Rodrygo equalized for the hosts late in the second half to force extra time.
Atletico played most of extra time with 10 men after defender Stefan Savic was sent off with a second yellow card with the game still tied 1-1.
Atletico was trying to beat Madrid away for the first time since 2016.
Madrid is back in the Copa semifinals for the first time since 2018-19, having last won the competition in 2013-14. It was eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the quarterfinals last season.
Atletico was trying to reach the last four for the first time since 2016-17. Its last Copa title was won in 2012-13 in a final against Madrid.
The Copa was the only title Atletico had a realistic chance of winning his season, as it is in fourth place in the Spanish league and was eliminated from the Champions League and Europa League.
Atlético coach Diego Simeone complained about the refereeing, but said he was proud of how his team competed.
“We gave everything we had,” he said. “We have been making it difficult for Madrid, that makes us proud, the team competed to win.”
Madrid struggled to break through the Atletico defense early on, and the visitors were a constant threat on counterattacks.
Morata, a former Madrid player, put Atletico ahead from close range after a cross from the right by Nahuel Molina in the 19th. Rodrygo equalized with a neat run in the 79th, getting past four Atletico defenders before firing a shot from inside the area past goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Benzema, who had to leave France’s Word Cup squad because of an injury sustained just before the tournament, scored with a low shot from inside the area in the 104th minute, and Vinícius found the net to secure the victory after a breakaway just before the end, with his scoring run starting from near midfield.
Defender David Alaba was back in Madrid’s squad but Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eden Hazard were not available for Ancelotti.
Athletic Bilbao reached the semifinals for the fourth straight season with a 3-1 win at Valencia.
Iker Muniain, Nico Williams and Mikel Vesga scored for the Basque Country club, which was runner-up both in 2020 and 2021 and lost to Valencia in last season’s semifinals.
Valencia, which lost last year’s final to Real Betis, has been struggling recently, with only one win in its last five matches in all competitions. The team coached by Gennaro Gattuso had made it 1-1 thanks to an own-goal by Athletic defender Óscar de Marcos.
On Wednesday, Barcelona edged Real Sociedad 1-0 and Osasuna defeated Sevilla 2-1 in extra time to make it to the semifinals for the first time since reaching the final in 2005.
The draw for the semifinals will be on Monday.