Vinicius delivers on key night in Munich to give Madrid belief

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Real Madrid;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Real Madrid</a>'s Brazilian forward <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Vinicius Junior;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Vinicius Junior</a> celebrates scoring against <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Bayern Munich;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Bayern Munich</a> in his team's 2-2 draw in Bavaria (Michaela STACHE)

Vinicius Junior has struggled to consistently hit top form this season but snatched Real Madrid a vital 2-2 draw at Bayern Munich on Tuesday with a brace to give his side every chance of reaching the Champions League final.

The 23-year-old forward's strikes bookended a pulsating semi-final first leg battle at the Allianz Arena, leaving all to play for in the Spanish capital next week.

England international Jude Bellingham's explosion on to the scene has taken some focus from Vinicius, but the Brazilian was decisive on the big stage for the record 14-time winners.

Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe lead the scoring charts in the Champions League with eight goals each, but Vinicius climbed to five on a heady spring evening in Munich.

This season the forward has sadly been in the headlines for the incessant racist abuse aimed at him in Spanish stadiums as much as his goalscoring exploits, but this was a night where his qualities came to the fore.

Vinicius spotted Toni Kroos' cunning intentions after 24 minutes, running on to the German midfielder's low through ball and stroked past Manuel Neuer to put Madrid ahead.

After Leroy Sane and Kane turned the game on its head, it was Vinicius again who pulled Madrid level.

The striker broke into the box with a slalom run and released compatriot Rodrygo, who was clumsily hauled down by Bayern defender Kim Min-jae.

Vinicius stayed calm to slot home the resulting penalty and ensure Madrid start off on even footing back at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We have to continue with cool heads, rest until next week, and we will give everything to leave the Bernabeu qualified for London," Vinicius told Movistar, setting his sights on the Wembley final.

"I'm very happy that I could score two goals, and now we need to have a magical night at home."

- Central role -

Despite breaking through at Real Madrid as a left winger, this season Vinicius has been deployed centrally on occasion by coach Carlo Ancelotti, particularly in big matches.

In both legs of the quarter-final against Manchester City he played in the middle, and although he did not score he created two goals in the 3-3 home draw against Pep Guardiola's side.

Ancelotti said he believed goals would come for Vinicius in the position and as is so often the case, the wise Italian was proved right.

"He's learned to move well without the ball... and his finish was ice-cool," noted Ancelotti.

Vinicius and Rodrygo also swapped positions frequently to keep Bayern's defence on their toes.

"I think it's good for the team, I hope the coach continues with it because it's working out," said Rodrygo.

Vinicius was frequently involved, helping to create a chance for Kroos early in the second half that Neuer saved superbly.

He was also sent through on goal himself for the second time in the match but from a wide angle the German stopper had the advantage and beat away his effort.

However Vinicius would have the final say, for now at least, with his penalty that earned Madrid a draw from a game where they might have lost, given the volume of chances Bayern created.

"In this competition it's important not to lose, and we're here because we haven't lost yet," added Vinicius.

"So we have to continue, to do big things, and take Madrid where it deserves to be -- the final."

Vinicius' double at a vital time opens debate over whom Madrid's finest talent is, although not for elder statesman Kroos.

"A week ago everyone said the best was Jude... now it's Vini," said the 34-year-old, who impressed on his return to the Allianz Arena.

"It's just that we have have a lot of good players."