Bellingham brace earns Real Madrid Clasico win at Barcelona

AFP , Saturday 28 Oct 2023

Jude Bellingham's stunning double snatched Real Madrid a 2-1 comeback victory at Barcelona in his first La Liga Clasico on Saturday.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid's English midfielder #5 Jude Bellingham (C) celebrates with (From L) Real Madrid's German defender #22 Antonio Rudiger, Real Madrid's Brazilian forward #07 Vinicius Junior, and Real Madrid's Spanish forward #14 Joselu after scoring his team's second goal during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona on October 28, 2023. Photo: AFP


The England international, who has started his Madrid career in remarkable goalscoring form, unleashed a rocket into the top corner from distance after Ilkay Gundogan had sent hosts Barcelona ahead at the Olympic Stadium.

Bellingham then fired home a second in stoppage time to silence Barcelona fans and reach 10 goals in the top flight this season.

Barcelona hit the woodwork twice and had the better of the game but Bellingham, La Liga's top goalscorer, is in unstoppable form and inevitably made his mark in his first Clasico.

Bellingham's brace sent Madrid to the top of La Liga, ahead of Girona on goal difference, with both teams four points ahead of Barcelona in third.

The Catalans were boosted by the returns of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha from injury, with Xavi naming them on the bench, but Frenkie de Jong and Pedri did not recover in time.

His counterpart Carlo Ancelotti selected Ferland Mendy at left back over Eduardo Camavinga and Fran Garcia, once again deploying Bellingham in the number 10 role as he got his first taste of arguably the world's biggest club football match.

However, it was another midfielder playing for the first time in the Clasico who broke the deadlock -- Barcelona's summer arrival Gundogan.

The former Manchester City man was sharpest when Aurelien Tchouameni intercepted Ferran Torres' pass, diverting it back into his own area.

Centre-back David Alaba tried to clear but was thoroughly unconvincing and Gundogan read his intentions, hopped onto the ball and swept past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the sixth minute.

Fermin Lopez, one of the emerging young Barcelona La Masia academy products who has broken into the first team, slapped a shot against the post after the intense Gavi pressed high to win the ball back.

Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger hammered wide from nearly 40 yards out as Madrid were held off by the hosts, with winger Vinicius Junior getting into tangles with Gavi and Ronald Araujo, deployed at right-back to try

and shackle him.

After Araujo barged the Brazilian, he protested, with Xavi telling him it was just a shoulder charge, although the Barcelona coach could not defend Ferran Torres' rugby tackle on Vinicius just before half-time, which earned him a yellow card.

Gavi, Gundogan and Lopez controlled the midfield, with Joao Cancelo's more advanced position allowing Barcelona additional defensive security.

Barcelona struck the woodwork again when Inigo Martinez headed Lopez's inch-perfect cross against the post early in the second half, with Arrizabalaga thwarting Araujo on the follow-up.

Madrid were reduced to long-range efforts but eventually one ripped into the net to level the score, with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a Tchouameni piledriver but he could not keep out Bellingham's blast, pulling Madrid level in a game they had struggled to find a foothold in.

With the game heading towards an unsatisfying draw for both sides, Bellingham intervened decisively -- in the right place at the right time to shoot through Ter Stegen's legs after Luka Modric diverted Dani Carvajal's cross into his path.

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