La Liga: Jude Bellingham Brace Helps Leaders Real Madrid Crush Title Rivals Girona

Feb 11, 2024

Jude Bellingham scored twice as Real Madrid took control of La Liga with a dominant 4-0 win over second-placed Verona on Saturday, opening up a five-point lead. Vinicius Junior scored the opener and then set up Bellingham for the second as Carlo Ancelotti's side dominated the Catalan minnows to shock the title contenders. Bellingham tapped in the third after the break from close range but limped off with an ankle problem at the start of the second half. Rodrigo kept the goals flowing with a fine individual effort as the record 35-time Spanish champions taught Verona a compelling lesson in the top flight for only the fourth year in their history.

The win leaves Madrid 11 points behind third-place champions Barcelona, ​​who host Granada on Sunday.

“Jude is a star, he has scored a lot of goals and I hope he continues to progress,” Vinicius told Real Madrid TV.

“Jude has been the best this season, we are doing well and we are happy because we are a family.”

Real Madrid coach Ancelotti praised Vinicius, who has been a constant thorn in the side for Verona.

“When he plays like this and with this attitude, in my personal opinion, he is the best in the world,” said the Italian.

Madrid's victory was a convincing one, filled with swag but also with the sweat it took to keep the league's top goalscoring team calm despite the absence of key injuries.

Ancelotti started with a makeshift central defensive pairing of Dani Carvajal and Aurelien Tchoumeni, with all four of the club's specialists out.

“Today we broke the world record for centre-back injuries,” Ancelotti joked.

Verona were without the suspended Daly Blind and Yangel Herrera, as well as coach Michel Sanchez, and watched helplessly as their team collapsed.

“When you face opponents of this level, it gives you a chance to see what your reality is,” admitted Mitchell, who added that his team are still having an “incredible” season despite the result.

He started well against Madrid, but suffered a 3–0 defeat at home in September and made the same mistake again at the Santiago Bernabéu.

This time Vinicius broke the deadlock in just the sixth minute, cutting in from the left and sending a fierce strike beyond Paulo Gazzaniga and at the far post.

Bellingham, who started the match level with Verona's Artem Dovbyk as the league's joint top scorers with 14 goals, doubled Madrid's lead.

The England international rounded Gazzaniga and then headed wide of the goal from a tight angle after a brilliant Vinicius pass.

'A perfect game'

Bellingham tapped in his 16th of the season in La Liga early in the second half, after Gazzaniga could only deflect Vinicius' shot into his path.

This was his last contribution, before Ancelotti immediately withdrew him due to an ankle injury, which he had iced.

Madrid face RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday and Bellingham is expected to be fit after reaching 20 goals in 29 games in all competitions.

However, he has plenty of other firepower if Los Blancos need a rest.

Rodrigo struck for the fourth after darting into the area as Verona fell – and perhaps their unlikely title bid is done.

“All games are (important), but this is something more important than that,” Rodrigo told Real Madrid TV.

“I'm very happy, it was a special moment for me, my 50th goal… It was a perfect game for us.”

Joselu hit the post with the final kick of the game with a penalty as Madrid dominated from start to finish, with Vinicius, Bellingham and midfielder Eduardo Camavinga shining.

Verona defender Yann Couto had tears in his eyes at the end after a particularly difficult evening at the hands of Vinicius.

“They moved forward with a great goal, we had to sail against the tide,” said Verona winger Cristian Portu.

“Everything went wrong today and they had a great game.”

Elsewhere Ante Budimir's goal gave Osasuna a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad, who face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Las Palmas won 2-0 at Valencia with last-minute goals from Alex Suarez and Marc Cardona, while Alaves drew 1-1 with Villarreal.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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