'Crazy': Rio Ferdinand makes claim about Reece James after last night's game

Rio Ferdinand says it was mad that the rare occasion Reece James let Vinicius Jnr out of his sight yesterday turned out to be totally decisive.

Speaking on BT Sport after the remarkable Champions League encounter between Chelsea and Real Madrid, Ferdinand certainly felt for James following the defender’s dominant display across almost the entire two hours.

Reece James vs Vinicius Jnr

Vinicius and the England international enjoyed a personal duel throughout the game yesterday, with the latter arguably finishing as the victor.

Despite receiving a yellow card so prematurely in the game, James never wavered from his task.

He marshalled his direct opponent professionally, avoiding diving in or allowing the Brazilian much room to work with.  

James Officially Returns To HITC!

Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

However, it was the Madrid forward who eventually got the last laugh.

Chelsea had pulled themselves back to the brink of reaching the semi-finals, having scored three times in 90 minutes to put themselves ahead on aggregate.

But with the end in sight, Carlo Ancelotti’s side grabbed an all-important goal back ten minutes from the end.

This added an extra half an hour onto the contest, one that ultimately went in the Spaniard’s favour.

Reece’s regret

With Thomas Tuchel’s men understandably tiring, spaces started opening up all over the pitch.

Perhaps the most significant gap was left by James on his right flank, as he had forayed forward in search of a winner.

Vinicius, overjoyed and probably shocked by the green grass in front of him, received the ball and drove towards goal.

From there, he was able to deliver a cross onto the head of Karim Benzema.

The Frenchman forced his effort past Edouard Mendy and thus became the Madrid hero once again.

Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“But it shows you, there’s these little details in these games at the top level that can really change things,” remarked Ferdinand on the incident that concluded the fixture.

“I wasn’t even that he did wrong, they lost the ball in the transition, it was the only time in the game Reece James wasn’t in front of Vinicius. He had Vinicius locked down.

“Probably one of the most in form wingers in the world, he locked him down all game. One moment he wasn’t in front of him, he sets up the winner. Crazy.”

You’ll get another chance at redemption Reece, we are sure of that.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.