Thibaut Courtois asks for Vinicius Junior “to be protected” after another horror tackle

Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Valencia on Thursday night saw the reigning La Liga champions close back to within five points of Barcelona at the top of the table. Second half goals from Marco Asensio and Vinicius Jr were enough to see off managerless Los Che.

Thibaut Courtois recorded a third successive La Liga clean sheet on the back of the match. After a difficult spell at the start of 2023, he has been pleased with the defence’s improvement in recent weeks.

“We have had three games with a clean sheet, but I would have preferred to concede (against Real Sociedad) and win. We have improved defensively. It was a good match today.”

Courtois also asked for more protection for teammate Vinicius, who was subject to a wild kick out from Gabriel Paulista, for which the Valencia defender received a straight red card. The Belgian stopper believes more needs to be done to prevent the 22-year-old being targeted, but he was pleased with the referee’s decision to send Gabriel off.

“You have to protect Vinicius a little. He’s a very expressive guy, he dribbles and the defenders don’t like that. In many matches, opponents have given him many kicks. I’m happy that the referee had the courage to send Paulista off.”

Vinicius was making his 200th appearance for Real Madrid against Valencia, and he was certainly in the centre of things on his landmark game.

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