Jude Bellingham continued his Real Madrid fairytale with a second-half brace to inspire a comeback win against Barcelona at the Olimpic Stadium on Saturday.
In a game that the hosts largely controlled until the hour mark, Ilkay Gundogan gave the Blaugrana the lead in the sixth minute. Bellingham answered with an absolutely scintillating equaliser in the 68th minute, before scoring the winner in the second minute of injury time.
Xavi started Ronald Araujo at right-back, to go toe-to-toe with Vinicius Jr. Joao Cancelo started in the right wing position, making an auxiliary front three with Ferran Torres and Joao Felix. On the other side of the dugout, Carlo Ancelotti started with his trademark midfield diamond, with Vinicius and Rodrygo leading the line.
It was Barcelona who started on the front foot, with the forwards and Fermin Lopez receiving passes in between the lines and attacking the Real Madrid backline.
The opening goal wasn’t far away, as Gundogan pounced to score his first for the club since joining in the summer from Manchester City. The midfielder attempted a give-and-go with Torres which was intercepted, but David Alaba failed to get rid of the loose ball. His attempted clearance fell to the German, who made no mistake with his finish.
Madrid were failing to get any control whatsoever, with both Vinicius and Rodrygo tending to drift wide to collect the ball. Bellingham was being closely tailed by Gavi, and was unable to get into any threatening positions in and around the box. Araujo was doing a stellar job at making sure his opposite number wasn’t able to use his pace to get in behind.
Barcelona had chances to go two up, with Fermin Lopez hitting the post and Felix being thwarted by a last-ditch tackle by Dani Carvajal. The home side definitely went into the break with more to smile about that their opponents.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Barca hitting the post for a second time. Inigo Martinez’s header had Kepa well-beaten but came back off the upright, after which the goalkeeper did well to regroup and save the follow-up from Araujo.
For Madrid, their only threat of note came from an effort from distance from Toni Kroos, which was easily gathered by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
On the hour mark, Ancelotti wrung the changes. He brought off Kroos for Luka Modric, and brought on a target man up front in the form of Joselu, who replaced Rodrygo. For Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski came on to make his return from injury.
The equaliser arrived just minutes later, and was a real bolt from the blue. Bellingham picked up a loose ball 30 yards from goal, and smacked an absolute firecracker of an effort into the top corner. The Englishman has had the Midas touch all season since signing for the club in the summer, and this was arguably his best goal so far, both in terms of quality and importance.
Xavi made changes five minutes later, adding freshness to the attack in the form of Lamine Yamal and Raphinha, while also shoring up the defence with the introduction of Oriol Romeu.
Both sides had half-chances to score, with Lewandowski’s shot going narrowly over Kepa’s bar. At the other end, Joselu was played through by Vinicius, but the striker was unable to collect cleanly and allowed the Barcelona defence to recover.
In the end though, destiny only had it in store for one man to get the winner. With a minute and a half of the four added minutes played, Carvajal’s cross into the box took a touch off Modric and looped perfectly into the path of an on-rushing Bellingham. The 20 year-old sensation was completely unmarked, and prodded home to score his 10th league goal of the season.
With this victory, Madrid climb back to the top of the La Liga table with 11 games played, leapfrogging Girona who were temporarily occupying the summit after their win over Celta Vigo on Friday.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6
Ronald Araujo – 8
Andreas Christensen – 7
Inigo Martinez – 7
Alex Balde – 7
Ilkay Gundogan – 8
Gavi – 7
Fermin Lopez – 7
Joao Felix – 6
Ferran Torres – 6
Joao Cancelo – 6
Robert Lewandowski – 6
Oriol Romeu – 5
Raphinha – 6
Lamine Yamal – 6
Kepa – 6
Dani Carvajal – 7
Antonio Rudiger – 7
David Alaba – 6
Ferland Mendy – 6
Aurlien Tchouameni – 7
Toni Kroos – 6
Federico Valverde – 7
Jude Bellingham – 9*
Vinicius Jr. – 6
Rodrygo – 6
Eduardo Camavinga – 7
Luka Modric – 7
Joselu – 6
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