Real Madrid overpowered early La Liga surprise package Girona as they surged to a 3-0 win in Catalonia on Saturday night.
Joselu put Los Blancos ahead with their first real venture forward as his shot beat the grasp of Paulo Gazzaniga before Aurelien Tchouameni made it 2-0 midway through the first half with a bullet header.
Jude Bellingham got on the scoresheet again by converting Joselu’s chip and while there was still time for club captain Nacho Fernandez to be sent off, Madrid comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to go top of La Liga.
How the game unfolded
Girona blasted over with a golden opportunity early on. Miguel Gutierrez crossed to Viktor Tsygankov who got ahead of left-back Eduardo Camavinga, though he could only hit the post from close range.
It was a miss the hosts, who had won six of their seven games heading into Saturday night’s clash, would soon come to regret.
A cross from Bellingham from the outside of his box arrived to the feet of Joselu, who stayed onside to place his finish beyond Gazzaniga who arguably should have made the save.
Real Madrid’s second goal arrived only four minutes after their first as Tchouameni struck. Toni Kroos supplied the perfect delivery from a corner and the France international shrugged off Daley Blind to head in his first Madrid goal in his 59th appearance.
Los Blancos’ advantage would have increased had Gazzaniga not pushed away Bellingham’s effort when one-on-one before the former Spurs goalie saved again, this time just before half-time as Kroos had a crack from the edge of the box.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was kept on his toes at the start of the second half, the Spaniard doing well to deny Yangel Herrera, before Bellingham unsuccessfully tried to finish off a goal-mouth scramble also involving Vinicius and Joselu.
However, it would eventually be Bellingham who wrapped up the scoring for the visitors as Carlo Ancelotti’s side sprung on the counter. Joselu saw his strike saved but had the presence of mind to pick out the England international who slammed his strike beyond Gazzaniga.
Substitute Rodrygo danced past a few Girona players before shooting just wide from a narrow angle before skipper Nacho was dismissed in the 94th minute.
The Spain international caught Portu with a high challenge, initially being yellow carded by referee Juan Luis Pulido Santana. However, further VAR intervention came and Nacho was instead dismissed altogether, adding to Ancelotti’s current concerns in central defence.
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 7/10 – Was sharp when he needed to be, pulling out a sharp save to deny Herrera. His fourth clean sheet for Madrid.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 6/10 – Very steady at right-back, not committing forward overly nor dominating in defence.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 7/10 – Few long balls went astray but had little issue keeping Girona’s threats quiet all evening.
CB: Nacho Fernandez – 5/10 – Was having a decent enough game in defence but then mucked it up with a brainless challenge late on.
LB: Eduardo Camavinga – 8/10 – Made a game-high nine tackles at left-back, a decision from Ancelotti which was surprising given Fran Garcia and Ferland Mendy were both named on the bench. Won free kicks well.
CM: Federico Valverde – 8/10 – Pulled off a couple of mazy dribbles and picked up loose possessions with interceptions.
CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 9/10 – A dominant defensive presence just in front of Madrid’s backline with four successful tackles and three interceptions.
CM: Toni Kroos – 8/10 – Continues to deliver for Madrid, setting up Tchouameni and misplacing only three of his 80 passes.
AM: Jude Bellingham – 9/10 – The England international’s runs into the box caused havoc and created space for other attackers. A goal and an assist doesn’t do his performance a disservice.
ST: Vinicius Junior – 7/10 – Was energetic on his first start since mid-August and broke up play by earning fouls.
ST: Joselu – 8/10 – Scored for the second game in a row and also showed great awareness to set up Bellingham.
Rodrygo (68′ for Vinicius) – 6/10 – Was eager to get involved but the final end product didn’t quite come.
Dani Ceballos (74′ for Bellingham) – 5/10
Lucas Vazquez (87′ for Joselu) – N/A
Brahim Diaz (87′ for Valverde) – N/A
Carlo Ancelotti – 8/10 – Got the balance of midfield spot on before Madrid raced into a lead they rarely looked like relinquishing, even against a dangerous Girona side.
Player of the match: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)