Bellingham scores twice as irresistible Real Madrid crush Girona’s rebellion

Jude Bellingham celebrates after scoring against Girona to boost Real Madrid’s position in La Liga and his at the top of the scoring charts.Photograph: Manu Fernández/AP

This is Real life. In the hours before this unlikely title decider, posters had gone up near the Santiago Bernabéu declaring that Girona were forever dreaming; if so, a cruel awakening awaited them. Carlo Ancelotti had insisted that whatever happened here the title race was not run but by the end it was hard not to see this as definitive. It was not only that Real Madrid beat their nearest, most unexpected rivals for La Liga to go five points clear, it was the way they did it.

Two goals from Jude Bellingham and one each from Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo delivered a statement to go with victory. Girona have been superb this season but when it came to it, Madrid were simply too good, reasserting their superiority. It was, Ancelotti said, their best display of the season “in every sense” and the timing could not have been better. Vinícius in particular stood above, his coach calling him the best in the world, his countryman and opponent Yan Couto overwhelmed and left in tears at full time.

Related: Real Madrid 4-0 Girona: La Liga – as it happened

“We were shown that this is not our league,” the Girona manager, Míchel Sánchez, said afterwards. His side have been beaten only twice, both times to Madrid. The aggregate score: 7-0. 3-0 in Catalonia, now it was 4-0 in the capital, the rebellion crushed from the start.

Girona, La Liga’s great revelation, had come this far playing their way and had no intention of that changing. The problem was that as Mike Tyson famously put it, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth and, much as the visitors kept the ball for the first few minutes, it took Madrid five to land the first of many blows. Delivered without warning, it was a hell of a hit too. Vinícius came in off the left and, from the edge of the area, thumped the ball into the far corner.

Paulo Gazzaniga had no chance; nor, it turned out, did his teammates. Yes, this was only five minutes in and, yes, Girona continued trying to play. But, with Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde close to Toni Kroos, Madrid refused to allow them the space in which to do so. And then when they had it, there was an expansiveness and an assuredness about them that came as a reminder of who they are, the power they possess. Ultimately, this was a destruction.

Girona did not take a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, the fact that the two centre-backs who are not centre-backs going unnoticed, which speaks well of Aurélien Tchouaméni and Dani Carvajal. Ancelotti’s side handled this superbly, proving irresistible. Kroos gently exercised control over everything, his diagonal passing executed with an ease that was absurd. Camavinga was everywhere. Vinícius was electric.

Leaders Internazionale came from behind to win 4-2 at Roma in Serie A on Saturday, ending Daniele De Rossi’s winning start at the capital club despite having trailed their hosts at half-time.

Inter extended their lead over second-placed Juventus to seven points before Massimiliano Allegri’s side host Udinese on Monday. They still have a game in hand after their January trip to Saudi Arabia for the Italian Super Cup.

Roma, who had won each of their previous three games under De Rossi after he replaced José Mourinho in January, flew out of the traps and Stephan El Shaarawy was close to scoring inside the first minute but his close-range shot was tipped away by Inter keeper Yann Sommer.

Instead, Francesco Acerbi headed home to give Inter the lead in the 17th minute from a corner kick after Roma’s Romelu Lukaku flicked the ball on, a goal which stood after a lengthy VAR review for an offside check.

Roma pushed back and Gianluca Mancini nodded home a free-kick before the half-hour mark before El Shaarawy put the home side in front by the interval, when his shot from a tight angle bounced in after hitting both posts.

However, Marcus Thuram levelled for the fired-up Inter with a low first-time shot four minutes into the second half and Roma’s Angelino put the ball into his own net to restore the visitors’ lead in the 56th minute.

Alessandro Bastoni then netted a lovely squared pass from substitute Marko Arnautovic in stoppage time to secure the points for the visitors.

Earlier on Saturday, Lazio moved up to sixth with a 3-1 win at relegation-threatened Cagliari.

The Brazilian was the man who provided an outrageous pass for Madrid to double the lead. Way out on the right touchline, he released Bellingham with the outside of his right boot. Bellingham went past Gazzaniga with his right and finished with his left. It was his fifteenth league goal, taking him out alone as top scorer, and he hadn’t finished yet.

Girona started the second half seeking a way back in but Madrid swiftly put them back in their place again, the same two men combining for the third. Heading in from the right rolling the ball under his studs, Vinícius drew Couto in, flipped it right foot to left and, surrounded by three opponents, sent the ball towards goal through a pair of legs. Gazzaniga’s stretch left Bellingham with an open net. The Englishman withdrew to an ovation soon after. He was limping slightly; Madrid were flying, Rodrygo belting in the fourth to this grandest of arenas singing. “This is how Madrid win,” the lyrics run.


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