Brazilian kids come of age in Copa Libertadores

Edgar Davids would have been impressed with Vinicius Junior’s performance  (pic: AFP)

It was a very good week for Brazilian clubs in the Copa Libertadores as two of Brazil’s best young players showed the world what they can do.

A few weeks ago I highlighted how I thought that the bookies were overestimating the likelihood of a Brazilian club winning this year’s competition. After the first round of group games, in which only one out of seven Brazilian sides won, that was looking like a very good call. But results were much better for the Brazilian clubs this week.

Corinthians beat Venezuelan side Deportivo Lara 2 – 0 with a goal from their veteran striker Emerson Sheikh. (It was such a good header that it was compared to one of Pele’s famous headers at a World Cup.) But it was the performances of two players at the other end of their careers that really caught the attention.

Since signing for Real Madrid for around £40 million last year, Vinicius Junior hasn’t quite lived up to the massive expectation on his young shoulders. Real Madrid loaned him straight back to Flamengo and he scored only three league goals in 24 games last season. The player is still only 17 years old and he has shown some signs of improvement but on Wednesday night he finally marked his arrival on the big stage.

With Flamengo trailing Emelec 1-0 with around 25 minutes left Vinicius Junior was brought on in place of Everton Ribeiro. Ten minutes later the kid has scored the best goal of his fledgling career and Flamengo are level. Eight minutes after that and Flamengo are in front. Vinicius Junior again. Flamengo win. Check out his first goal below:

Santos, meanwhile, have their own superstar in the making called Rodrygo, who has just turned 17. He isn’t as well known as Vinicius Junior (nothing like £40 million move to Real Madrid to boost your profile) and is a little bit younger (Vinicius Junior turns 18 in July). But the kid from Santos some serious talent too and on Thursday night he became the youngest Brazilian to score in the Copa Libertadores. He has already been linked with Liverpool and judging by his showing for Santos against Nacional this week, he certainly seems to have the skill needed to play in the Premier League. Check out his goal:

Santos won the game 3-1, with Eduardo Sasha scoring the other two for Santos. Vasco, I’m afraid to say, lost their match at home against Universidad de Chile. Theoretically that was Vasco’s most winnable match since Racing and Cruzeiro are their other opponents in five. Its not looking good for them already, after just one game.

Last but not least, in case you were wondering, Vinicius Junior doesn’t have an eye condition like Edgar Davids. And he doesn’t need to wear glasses during matches. He did , however, put on some glasses that somebody from the crowd threw at him and pose for a picture after scoring, which explains the picture at the top of this post.

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