Barcelona: Jude Bellingham’s star keeps rising at Real Madrid even when it seems it can’t get any higher.
The England international’s bolt from the blue seemed to rescue Los Blancos a point in his first Clasico in a match where they deserved less, outplayed by rivals Barcelona for the majority of it.
That would have been enough for a relieved Madrid, but it was not for Bellingham, who found a late winner in the 92nd minute to send Madrid back top of La Liga.
Bellingham now has 13 goals in 13 games for Madrid since his move from Borussia Dortmund this summer, with the €103 million ($109 million) transfer fee not weighing him down in the slightest.
“I wasn’t at my best,” Bellingham admitted after the Clasico — just imagine what he will do when he is.
“Lord Bellingham,” ran the headline in AS newspaper, while Marca went with “Bellingham sticks out his tongue” — Barcelona played with Rolling Stones’ iconic tongue and lips logo on their shirts as part of their Spotify sponsorship deal.
Some members of the veteran rock band watched the game from the stands, but in the end the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was the song that sprang to mind.
The 20-year-old’s Clasico brace crowned a superb start to life in the Spanish capital, with three goals in three in the Champions League too, and Bellingham told fans to expect more of the same.
The midfielder says he has been working on adding long-range strikes to his game, and that paid off with his goal to level Ilkay Gundogan’s early opener at the Olympic Stadium.
“I got the ball on the edge of the box, I’ve been saying for a few weeks that I need to try from outside the area,” Bellingham told Real Madrid TV.
“Maybe the opponents expect me to try to get into the box or find a teammate and I wanted to surprise them by hitting it from outside the box.
“I know I have the technique and it went into the top corner.”
Bellingham barely celebrated his first goal, knowing the job was only half done.
“He seems like a veteran,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, when asked about it.
His second involved some luck, with Luka Modric miscontrolling Dani Carvajal’s cross and the ball fell perfectly for Bellingham.
However the midfielder has perfected his runs into the area and has been a constant menace in opposition boxes through the season.
This time Bellingham ran to the corner and his arms held wide.
“Yep,” he said, nodding, while facing stunned Barcelona supporters.
Sucker-punched by Bellingham, Barcelona were left with only hurt and self-reflection.
“I wish there was more anger, frustration and disappointment,” said Barca goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan.
“There has to be more emotion, especially when you lose.”
Marc-Andre ter Stegen might have got more on Bellingham’s vicious drive than a fingertip, Oriol Romeu should have tracked him deep into the area when he scored his winner, but the Englishman is unstoppable at the moment.
“He is in a state of grace,” said Barcelona coach Xavi, who praised the midfielder’s quality but insisted part of his goalscoring form was fortune.
His Real Madrid counterpart Ancelotti, who deserves credit for deploying Bellingham in an attacking midfield position to offset the departure of Karim Benzema, expects the goals to keep flowing.
“He can get to 20 or 25 goals, because he has started very well,” said the Italian.
“We don’t think of him as a striker, but he’s a very important player for us.”