‘Surprising’ Bellingham helps Madrid crush Osasuna, overtake Girona

Jude Bellingham hit two more goals to reach 10 for the season in all competitions (Pierre-Philippe MARCOU)

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said nobody expected Jude Bellingham to be so explosive in front of goal after the midfielder hit a brace to send Madrid back top of La Liga on Saturday with a 4-0 win over Osasuna.

Girona’s 1-0 win at Cadiz temporarily gave the Catalan minnows a one-point lead but Madrid cruised to victory at the Santiago Bernabeu to reclaim first place, with Vinicius Junior and Joselu also scoring in the rout.

England international Bellingham, the division’s top scorer with eight goals, was at his unstoppable best once more in the final third.

Ancelotti has shifted the former Borussia Dortmund player into a more attacking role, with freedom to move behind two more central strikers and it has paid dividends.

After scoring a brilliant solo goal against Napoli in midweek in the Champions League and adding two more against Osasuna, the midfielder now has 10 goals across both competitions in 10 appearances.

“Bellingham is finding a lot of chances in attack, he’s very involved in the team’s attacking play and not having a fixed position gives him an advantage,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“It’s been a surprising start to the season for him in all aspects. Obviously nobody expected this level, in terms of goals.”

Ancelotti deployed defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni alongside Antonio Rudiger at the heart of defence, with David Alaba and Eder Militao injured, and Nacho suspended after his rash tackle last weekend against Girona.

However Tchouameni enjoyed a quiet afternoon at the back as Madrid dominated to ensure they will stay top over the international break.

Luka Modric, afforded a rare start, helped create the opener by feeding Dani Carvajal who laid the ball off neatly to Bellingham.

The midfielder, who had surged into the box, slammed the ball past goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.

“I like to visualise the game, I see the pitch, the grass, my playing position… that way I feel calmer,” Bellingham told Real Madrid TV.

– ‘Top form’ –

Bellingham started and finished Madrid’s second goal in the 55th minute as Madrid dominated, darting forward and playing a one-two with Fede Valverde, before sweeping home.

Fans gave him a standing ovation as he left the pitch, with many singing the chorus of Beatles song “Hey Jude”.

“I don’t know how to thank the fans, they’ve welcomed me into this family like one of their own,” added Bellingham.

Ancelotti warned one day he may use the Englishman in a deeper role.

“Everyone knows he’s not a centre forward who scores goals, he’s an attacking midfielder, or a central midfielder,” said Ancelotti.

“When the moment comes, I think he can play with a different type of attitude and contribution, helping the team in terms of hard work, obviously, and with quality.”

Vinicius extended Madrid’s lead, with the Brazilian rounding goalkeeper Herrera and tapping home.

The winger turned provider for the fourth goal, setting up Joselu for his fifth league goal in his last six games.

Joselu’s sixth should have followed when David Garcia conceded a penalty for handball, but Herrera saved the forward’s effort down the middle.

Osasuna’s goalkeeper has a superb penalty-saving record, including stopping two from former Madrid forward Karim Benzema in one match.

It did not take the shine off Madrid’s afternoon, as they celebrated their most emphatic win of the season to date.

– Short-lived lead –

Aleix Garcia’s tidy strike earned Michel’s Girona, now two points behind Madrid, their narrow victory at Cadiz on Saturday.

Cadiz gave themselves an uphill struggle when Darwin Machis was sent off after 10 minutes for a high lunge.

The Yellow Submarine still managed to play their part in an end-to-end clash, ultimately decided by Garcia’s strike just before the hour mark.

Girona’s playmaker swept home brilliantly from outside the area to put his team ahead against their mid-table opponents.

Champions Barcelona, who are third, visit Granada on Sunday.

Sevilla snatched a 2-2 draw at home against Rayo Vallecano, with Youssef En-Nesyri heading home in the 96th minute.

Valencia prevented Mallorca from earning their first home win of the season with a 1-1 draw.



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