Carlo Ancelotti said Real Madrid are heading into this weekend's clasico against rivals Barcelona full of excitement after extending their perfect start to the Champions League with a 2-1 victory at Braga on Tuesday night.
Rodrygo put Real ahead and Jude Bellingham made it 2-0 just after the hour mark with his third Champions League goal in as many games for the Spanish giants. The 14-time European champions were then forced to hold on for the victory after Alvaro Djalo pulled one back for Braga.
"Overall, I really think we produced a good game," Madrid manager Ancelotti said. "I didn't enjoy that they scored because before that we were well in control and the win was in hand."
After a cagey start, Nacho released Vinicius Junior down the left flank and the Brazilian stood Serdar Saatci up before squaring for a sliding Rodrygo to give Madrid the lead on 16 minutes.
Madrid briefly thought they had doubled their lead 10 minutes before half-time when Rodrygo slotted the ball into an empty net, but Vinicius had strayed offside as Eduardo Camavinga played him in near the halfway line.
Bellingham doubled Madrid's lead on 61 minutes when he stroked the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after being teed up by Vinicius. It was his 11th goal in all competitions since joining Real from Borussia Dortmund ahead of this season.
However, the home side halved the deficit just two minutes later when Djalo powered a near-post drive past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Braga then introduced the dangerous Bruma, who was only deemed fit enough to start on the bench. The change nearly paid off on 70 minutes when a Ricardo Horta drive was spooned just wide by Arrizabalaga.
Vinicius thought he had added a goal to his two assists on 82 minutes, but the assistant's flag denied him with Madrid looking to kill off the game.
A VAR check for a penalty in the 89th minute was Braga's last hope for an equaliser as Madrid ground out a hard-fought victory.
With his two assists, Vinicius was named player of the match, and Ancelotti praised the Brazilian's contribution.
"He's back to his best," the Italian said. "He got the goal, which was ruled out by the narrowest of margins, and he made two assists, for Rodrygo and Bellingham. He's back and he's back in form. He made the difference today."
Sitting top of Group C with a maximum nine points from their first three games, Madrid now turn their attention back to La Liga duties and the blockbuster clasico against arch-rivals Barcelona on Saturday.
Madrid top the league table, level on points with surprise high-flyers Girona, with Barca a point back in third. A victory away at Barcelona would give Real an early-season boost, and Ancelotti believes his side are primed for a strong performance in the clasico.
“After this game, we know exactly what we need to do: everything we can to win it," Ancelotti said. "We have time to get ready for it. We're heading into this incredibly important game full of excitement."
The only concern for Madrid was Bellingham looking in some discomfort at the end of the match against Braga, but Ancelotti insisted there was nothing to worry about.
“He's alright. He was feeling it a little bit in his abductors because it was a soft pitch. He's a little tired but that's to be expected."