New arrival Jude Bellingham struck twice for Real Madrid to help them come from behind to beat Almeria 3-1 in La Liga on Saturday and said he was “ten times better” than last season.
After netting on his debut last weekend, Bellingham again played a key role for Carlo Ancelotti’s side as they maintained their 100 per cent start to the season.
Vinicius Junior added the third after being teed up by Bellingham to wrap up Los Blancos’ victory at the Power Horse Stadium on Spain’s east coast, after Sergio Arribas had sent the hosts ahead early on.
Without talisman and Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema, who left the club in the summer, Bellingham has quickly filled the void with three goals in his first two games after his move from the Bundesliga.
The former Borussia Dortmund and Birmingham City star has hit the ground running in Spain, wearing former Madrid great Zinedine Zidane’s number five shirt.
“I’m ten times better than I was last season,” Bellingham told Real Madrid TV.
“I feel really comfortable with these players and I’m learning every day.
“The level here is so high and I’m like a sponge, taking in everything my teammates tell me. That’s why I’ve started the season so well.”
Real Madrid started German duo Toni Kroos and Antonio Rudiger in place of Eduardo Camavinga and the injured Eder Militao.
Andriy Lunin continued in goal despite Kepa Arrizabalaga’s arrival from Chelsea to help cover for Thibaut Courtois, set to miss most of the season.
The Ukrainian goalkeeper might have done better with Arribas’s opener in the third minute, a header from Lucas Robertone’s cross at the end of a break.
Former Madrid player Arribas sprinted forward from deep to lose Fran Garcia and nod past Lunin, following his summer switch.
“Lunin played very well, like in Bilbao,” said Ancelotti.
“We have the same confidence in him as in Kepa, who sooner or later will have to play — it might be in the next game.”
– Bellingham brace –
Bellingham levelled from close range, thinking quickly after the ball dropped to him in the box to add to his opening day strike.
The England international’s effort survived a VAR check for offside and handball.
Bellingham, deployed as a number 10 again by Ancelotti, was a tricky presence for Almeria to handle in the box for his towering size and skill.
Kroos put Real Madrid ahead just before half-time with a typically classy finish but the goal was ruled out for a foul by Dani Carvajal.
Madrid eventually took the lead when Bellingham nodded Kroos’s cross home on the hour mark, his height once again proving a useful weapon for Madrid.
The midfielder followed in his younger brother Jobe’s footsteps, after the Sunderland forward netted a brace against Rotherham earlier Saturday in the Championship.
Madrid secured victory when Bellingham fed Vinicius in the area and the Brazilian swept a deflected strike into the top corner.
“He is adapting very well to La Liga, to our style, he’s very good,” Ancelotti told reporters.
Madrid moved provisionally top of La Liga, ahead of Valencia on goal difference, both with six points from their first two games.
Champions Barcelona, who drew their opening game against Getafe, welcome Cadiz on Sunday in their first match away from Camp Nou at the Olympic Stadium on the city’s Montjuic hill.
Earlier Saturday Celta Vigo pegged back Real Sociedad, with Oscar Mingueza’s late goal earning the Galicians a 1-1 draw after Ander Barrenetxea sent the visitors ahead.
Athletic Bilbao bounced back from defeat by Real Madrid last week with a 2-0 win over Osasuna.