Jude Bellingham scored his fourth goal in three La Liga games to secure a win for Real Madrid over a spirited Celta Vigo on Friday evening.
A tightly-contested affair was decided by an 80th minute winner from Madrid’s new superstar, with the England international heading home from a set piece later in the game.
The win is Madrid’s third to start the 2023/24 La Liga season.
How the game unfolded
Inside the first three minutes, amazingly, Celta Vigo thought they’d taken a shock lead through Jorgen Strand Larsen. The Norwegian wide player reacted quickly in the Real Madrid six-yard box to flick a foot at a fabulous first time volley from Fran Beltran, after Kepa Arrizabalaga punched a Celta corner out to he edge of the box, and steer the ball into the net.
After a VAR review however, the goal was ruled out as Larsen was deemed to have fouled Kepa when he was punching the corner kick clear. A lucky break for Madrid, to say the least.
Madrid largely struggled to gain a real foothold in the game after conceding that disallowed goal early on, and that was thanks to star man Vinicius Junior being forced off with a suspected hamstring injury in the 18th minute. The Brazilian superstar was replaced by ex-Stoke City man Joselu up front – a notable drop off in talent.
It was actually Celta who continued to create the better chance of the first half, with Oscar Mingueza spurning a great opportunity to give the home side the lead around the half hour mark. The wing-back was found at the back post by Iago Aspas who cleverly dinked the ball into the back post area and into Mingueza’s path. Mingueza however just couldn’t get a telling touch on the ball when he slid in to reach it, firing the ball high and wide of the right post.
In the final few minutes of the first half Madrid finally started to find a bit of attacking rhythm, with Joselu finding the back of the net from an egregiously offside position after some lovely interplay from the new narrow midfield.
While that attacking rhythm was found, the defensive frailties still continued to rear their heads. Jonathan Bamba, who had been a thorn in Madrid’s side throughout the half, almost bagged his first ever La Liga goal in additional time. The Cote d’Ivoire international sat Dani Carvajal down on the edge of the box with a quick turn before firing just wide of the post.
As expected, Madrid sparked into a life a bit more in the second half, finally creating a real clear cut chance on the hour mark. Said chance would fall to Federico Valverde, who stole the ball off the foot of Jude Bellingham just outside the six-yard box to fire narrowly wide.
Eight minutes later, Real Madrid would spurn the best opportunity of the game from the penalty apot. After being chopped down in the box by Ivan Villar, Rodrygo would see his resulting spot kick brilliantly saved by the Celta goalkeeper – diving low to his left to deflect the ball round the post.
Having kept Bellingham pretty quiet for most the game, Celta finally succumbed to the utter brilliance of the England superstar in the 80th minute.
Bellingham bagged his fourth goal in three La Liga games by latching onto a Joselu flick on from a set piece to head home.
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GK – Kepa Arrizabalaga – 5/10 – The Real Madrid Kepa is the same as the Chelsea Kepa is you’re wondering: a bit all over the place but Celta didn’t create enough to capitalise on that fact.
RB – Dani Carvajal – 5/10 – Once again, not quite at the races.
CB – Antonio Rudiger – 6/10 – Had a lot of ground to cover to help out Dani Carvajal on the right side of defence.
CB – David Alaba – 5/10 – Shakier than usual at the back.
LB – Fran Garcia – 6/10 – Struggled at times defensviely but got forward pretty well.
CM – Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Missed a decent chance, but was the best of Madrid’s deeper midfielders on the day.
CM – Aurelien Tchouameni – 5/10 – His rabona to nowhere was his only highlight. A bit ‘meh’ all round.
CM – Eduardo Camavinga – 6/10 – Put in a shift but didn’t offer enough on the ball.
AM – Jude Bellingham – 8/10 – Quiet by his standards but still won the game for Real Madrid. He’s on a different planet.
ST – Rodrygo Goes – 7/10 – By far and away Madrid’s liveliest attacker in open play. He did miss a penalty though…which isn’t great.
ST – Vinicius Junior – N/A – Subbed off after 18 minutes after suffering an apparent hamstring injury.
SUB – Joselu (18′ for Vinicius) – 6/10 – Bagged an assist for Bellingham’s winning goal.
SUB – Luka Modric (’63 for Tchouameni) – 6/10 – Helped Madrid take control of the midfield.
SUB – Toni Kroos (’63 for Camavinga) – 7/10 – Things notably calmed down in midfield once he was introduced – in a good way, of course.
SUB – Nacho Fernandez (’83 for Garcia) – N/A.
Manager – Carlo Ancelotti – 6/10 – Does this formation work? It probably doesn’t, but Bellingham is so good that is hasn’t mattered yet either.
Man of the match: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)