Jude Bellingham scores on return as Real Madrid win to move top of La Liga

Rodrygo the star at Cadiz as a 3-0 victory moves Carlo Ancelotti's side one point clear of Girona

Rodrygo, left, scored Real Madrid's first two goals and Jude Bellingham the third in the win at Cadiz. AP
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Jude Bellingham marked his return to the Real Madrid side with the third goal in a 3-0 win at Cadiz on Sunday evening as Carlo Ancelotti's team moved top of La Liga.

Bellingham had missed Madrid's last two league games and England's Euro qualifiers with a shoulder injury but scored his 14th goal of the season in the 74th minute to secure a comfortable win at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla.

Yet, it was Rodrygo who was the star of the show, scoring the first two goals and setting up Bellingham for the third as the Brazilian winger pulled apart the Cadiz defence.

"Rodrygo returned and made the difference today," Madrid manager Ancelotti said.

With the win, Madrid climbed a point clear of high-flying Girona, who host Athletic Bilbao on Monday looking to reclaim top spot. They also moved four points clear of fourth-placed rivals Barcelona, following their 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, and third-placed Atletico Madrid.

Madrid were dealt several injury blows over the past fortnight with Vinicius Junior and Eduardo Camavinga suffering long-term injuries, joining Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and Aurelien Tchouameni on the sidelines.

Despite that, Madrid secured a straightforward victory which is not something they take for granted after the international break, and less so with an injury-ravaged squad.

"Sometimes the difficulty is just more motivation and the players understood that very well," Ancelotti said.

"All the absences that we have are important players, but we managed it well and the team was very good out there."

Madrid dominated the opening stages and took the lead after 14 minutes when Rodrygo dribbled across the penalty area and curled a sumptuous strike into the top right corner.

The Brazilian struggled for goals at the start of the season but Ancelotti kept faith in him and with Vincius sidelined, he will be crucial for Madrid in the coming weeks.

Rodrygo's goals mean he has scored in three consecutive games for the first time since arriving at the club in 2019.

Madrid should have doubled their lead early in the second half after Rodrygo dribbled around Cadiz goalkeeper Conan Ledesma, but Joselu left it to him to finish, and he in turn left it for the veteran striker, with the ball running out of play.

However, Rodrygo had his second soon enough – another fine strike after dribbling into the box from 30 yards out.

After Maxi Gomez missed a fine chance for the hosts, the inspired Rodrygo set up the third for Bellingham and the England international drilled a tidy low finish across goal with his left foot.

On Bellingham's fitness, Ancelotti said: "He feels good with the protection and he played very well today, just like the others."

With the job done, Ancelotti withdrew both goalscorers and handed young forward Gonzalo Garcia his debut.

"I'm grateful and happy; since I was little I've been a Real Madrid fan and I've dreamed of playing with the first team," Garcia, 19, told Real Madrid TV.

"I'll keep the shirt and I'll ask my teammates to sign it."

The only negative note for Madrid was Luka Modric going off with what Ancelotti said was a "muscle overload".

Madrid host Napoli on Wednesday in the Champions League having already qualified from the group but looking to seal top spot.

Updated: November 27, 2023, 4:35 AM