Jude Bellingham shines as Real Madrid beat Girona to move clear at top

By Sports Desk February 10, 2024

Jude Bellingham made it 20 goals for the season as he and Vinicius Junior teamed up to put Girona to the sword and send Real Madrid five points clear at the top of the LaLiga table.

The England midfielder scored twice with both set up by Vinicius, who had opened the scoring before Rodrygo wrapped up a 4-0 win with a fine run and finish. Substitute Joselu also missed a late penalty.

It was just surprise package Girona’s second defeat of the league campaign, with the first also coming at the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s men, and it was every bit as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests.

With visiting head coach Michel banned from the touchline following his dismissal for leaving his technical area during last weekend’s draw with Real Sociedad, and opposite number Ancelotti forced to field a makeshift back four with injuries biting hard into his resources, there was an air of uncertainty around the Bernabeu Stadium as the game kicked off.

However, the fears of the locals were settled within six minutes when Vinicius picked up possession wide on the left, cut inside Ivan Martin and curled an unstoppable right-foot shot across keeper Paulo Gazzaniga and inside the far post.

With Toni Kroos dictating play, Madrid continued to look the more threatening and Girona skipper Juanpe was mightily relieved to concede a free-kick on the edge of the box rather than a penalty after he had rudely interrupted Eduardo Camavinga’s blistering 21st-minute run towards goal.

Federico Valverde curled the resulting set-piece straight into Gazzaniga’s arms, but there was little let-up in the home side’s efforts to build upon their encouraging start.

Bellingham dragged a 32nd-minute shot wide, but made amends within three minutes when he ran on to Vinicius’ superb ball behind Eric Garcia and rounded Gazzaniga to make it 2-0.

Vinicius scuffed wide after being played through as the whistle approached, but the sides headed for the dressing rooms with the hosts very much in the driving seat.

The visitors, who had offered little before the break, returned in determined mood and it took a last-ditch clearance by Ferland Mendy to cut out Miguel Gutierrez’s inviting cross as they finally started to make an impression going forward.

However, their hopes suffered a further blow within nine minutes when Vinicius cut in from the left and saw Gazzaniga parry his shot straight to Bellingham, who tapped into the empty net.

The Englishman’s evening ended prematurely with 57 minutes gone when, having earlier turned an ankle, he was replaced by Brahim Diaz.

His team did not feel his loss, however, and Rodrigo extended their lead within four minutes, accepting Vinicius’ pass before racing away to fire emphatically past Gazzaniga.

It should have been 5-0 at the death, but Joselu struck the post with a penalty awarded for Yan Couto’s foul on Arda Guler.

Related items

  • Kaoru Mitoma set to miss rest of season with back injury Kaoru Mitoma set to miss rest of season with back injury

    Brighton have suffered a blow with the news that Kaoru Mitoma is expected to miss the rest of the season.

    The Japan winger, who has lit up the Amex Stadium for much of the last two campaigns, has suffered a back injury which could leave him on the sidelines for three months.

    He has already missed a chunk of the season due to an ankle injury and his participation in the Asia Cup.

    Mitoma’s prolonged absence will be a big blow in the Seagulls’ quest for a top-six finish in the Premier League, their Europa League campaign – where they play Roma in the last 16 – and their FA Cup challenge, which continues at Wolves on Wednesday.

    Boss Roberto De Zerbi said at a press conference to preview the trip to Molineux: “It’s a bad, bad situation. It’s the back injury which kept him out against Everton (at the weekend). It’s an important problem. I think two or three months, (so) finished (for) the season.”

    The Seagulls will also be without Evan Ferguson (ankle) and Joel Veltman, while Danny Welbeck is a doubt and Billy Gilmour is suspended.

    “Ferguson tomorrow, he can’t play,” De Zerbi added. “Welbeck has a problem and we have to make a check.

    “Veltman as well can’t play and the other players injured can’t play.”

  • Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘need miracles’ to get a few injured players back Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘need miracles’ to get a few injured players back

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp feels he needs “miracles” to get a number of his injured players back sooner rather than later.

    Midfielder Ryan Gravenberch was the latest to be ruled out – for at least two matches – after he was carried off on a stretcher in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea.

    But Wataru Endo is also a doubt for Wednesday’s FA Cup visit of Championship high-flyers Southampton after he left Wembley on crutches and wearing a protective boot, which would take the number of first-teamers unavailable to 13.

    And Klopp admitted veteran midfielder Thiago Alcantara – who has made one five-minute substitute appearance since April – may not play again for the club as his contract expires in the summer.

    Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai are closest to returning, but they may not be risked in the cup.

    “We need miracles with a few players,” Klopp said. “I don’t want to rule them out for too long.

    “But it is touch and go with a lot of players who were not available for the final: Darwin, Mo, Dom – we have to see what they can do (on Tuesday).

    “In an ideal world you’d think about these kind of things but we obviously don’t live in an ideal world so we will see when the players arrive and they get checked.

    “When the players arrive and I can look in their eyes and see who might be ready then I will make the line-up.”

    Klopp is likely to have to rely on a number of the younger players who made such an impression at Wembley, with 19-year-olds Bobby Clark, son of former Newcastle midfielder Lee, and James McConnell likely to start against Saints.

    Although the pair have made just one start apiece in cup competitions this season, Klopp has total faith in their ability to step up in the team’s hour of need – although he urged fans to make allowances for them.

    “First and foremost, they don’t have to show anything. Our boys played in youth teams and under-21s and only came up recently and trained with us: absolutely nil experience but a lot of talent and they showed that,” he added.

    “If you play more of them (against Southampton) from the start and we have a look and think, ‘Hmm, they are not as good as I thought on Sunday’, that would be horrendous so there is absolutely no pressure.

    “All what these boys have to do is to really enjoy what they are doing. They have to defend like men, otherwise they cannot play.

    “I saw them doing that (on Sunday) and it obviously helped and it gave confidence and there are so many things you cannot buy. Usually you need years for getting these kind of experiences that they got in a flash.

    “It’s possible and a few of them have to start, that is clear, and if they do they will do the job and we all have to help them with celebrating the right things and not moaning about the wrong things.”

    Following the capture of a record-extending 10th League Cup on Sunday, Liverpool have made tentative moves regarding an end-of-season parade.

    It is not something they would not usually do for a victory in that competition but they want to mark the end of Klopp’s nine-year reign this summer.

    “That is the one part which is not so cool that it could be seen as that (a farewell to him)” he said. “I don’t think that makes sense.

    “But besides that, I am a big supporter of trophy parades and if there is a parade I will be on the bus, no doubt about that.”

  • Philippe Clement backs Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland for England recall Philippe Clement backs Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland for England recall

    Philippe Clement would welcome an England recall for Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland but knows Gareth Southgate needs to make that decision.

    A Sky Sports report claimed the 30-year-old, who won the last of his nine caps in September 2018, is in contention for the Brazil and Belgium friendlies at Wembley in March ahead of the 2024 European Championships this summer.

    Ahead of the cinch Premiership trip to Kilmarnock on Wednesday night – where Gers boss Clement revealed striker Kemar Roofe will not be considered because of the artificial surface – the Belgian said of the Butland report: “I would love that he would be there because he deserves, he is ready in that way.

    “If he deserves enough, that is the decision of Southgate of course.

    “He (Butland) has been really good for the team although he has had less to do in the last couple of weeks.

    “But he keeps the same concentration, the same seriousness and he is important in the dressing room and in training, and he is going to be important in the next couple of weeks and months because we have a lot of games to go and a lot of important games where you need players with personality.”

    Derek McInnes’ side have gone unbeaten in seven games in all competitions since losing 3-1 at Ibrox on January 2 and sit in fourth place.

    Clement’s team are two points clear of Celtic at the top of the table but he is wary of the Ayrshire side’s form and their artificial surface providing a potential double-whammy to their title challenge.

    He said: “It is a difficult challenge and we will approach the game with respect for the opponent but also respect for ourselves, to play our own game although you need to adapt to a totally different kind of football because of the pitch.

    “I made the comparison with tennis. Playing at Wimbledon or on a clay court.

    “It is a little bit like that, of course a different sport but the ball goes faster (on artificial turf) so you need to be a little bit more precise.

    “On a grass pitch when you give a pass it slows down after a while. On artificial, it keeps its speed or goes even faster along the way.

    “The ball bounces in a totally different way, also the way of turning, sprinting, stopping – a lot of things that are different but it is what it is.

    “It is not easy but we did it before at Livingston and we need to do it again.

    “The most important thing is getting three points but it will be a totally different game.

    “We are going to go there with full focus but we know it is one of those dangerous moments, it can be a bump on the road.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.