Jude Bellingham’s stunning double snatched Real Madrid a 2-1 comeback victory at Barcelona in his first La Liga Clasico on Saturday.
The England international, who has started his Madrid career in remarkable goalscoring form, unleashed a rocket into the top corner from distance after Ilkay Gundogan had sent hosts Barcelona ahead at the Olympic Stadium.
Bellingham then fired home a second in stoppage time from close range to silence Barcelona fans and reach 10 goals in the top flight in the ongoing La Liga season.
Barcelona hit the woodwork twice and had the better of the game but Bellingham, La Liga’s top goalscorer, is in unstoppable form and inevitably made his mark in his first Clasico.
Bellingham’s brace sent Madrid to the top of La Liga, ahead of Girona on goal difference, with both teams four points ahead of Barcelona in third.
“I love these comebacks, it played with my heart a little bit (but) they’re always so fun to play in,” Bellingham told Real Madrid TV.
“We didn’t give up and I’m so happy I could do it.”
Bellingham didn’t waste time celebrating his equaliser, keeping a cool head and quickly preparing to re-start the game, in search of the eventual winner.
“He seems like a veteran… the goal to level it totally changed the game,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said of his 20-year-old match-winner.
“What was surprising today was his shot, he’s always arriving in the box, today he scored a stupendous goal from in front of the area.”
Bellingham has now scored 13 goals in 13 games for Real Madrid across all competitions.
“He can get to 20 or 25 goals, because he has started very well,” added Ancelotti.
Barcelona could not believe the points had slipped out of their hands after a strong performance.
“The summary is simple, we had 60 very good minutes where we scored a goal, they had 20 to 25 minutes and they scored two,” said coach Xavi.
“I think Madrid’s victory today is unjust… they were much more efficient than us, that is the big difference.”
Barcelona were boosted during this most anticipated La Liga clash by the returns of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha from injury, with Xavi naming them on the bench.
His counterpart Ancelotti once again deployed Bellingham in the number 10 role as he got his first taste of arguably the world’s biggest club football match.
However, it was another midfielder playing for the first time in the Clasico who broke the deadlock — Barcelona’s summer arrival Gundogan.
The former Manchester City man was sharpest when Aurelien Tchouameni intercepted Ferran Torres’ pass, diverting it back into his own area.
David Alaba tried to clear but was thoroughly unconvincing and Gundogan read his intentions, hopped onto the ball and swept past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the sixth minute.
Fermin Lopez, one of the emerging young Barcelona La Masia academy products, then slapped a shot against the post.
Gavi, Gundogan and Lopez controlled the midfield, with Joao Cancelo’s more advanced position allowing Barcelona additional defensive security.
Barcelona struck the woodwork again when Inigo Martinez headed Lopez’s inch-perfect cross against the post.
Madrid were reduced to long-range efforts but eventually one ripped into the net to level the score, with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen could not keep out Bellingham’s blast, pulling Madrid level in a game they had struggled to find a foothold in.
Bellingham intervened decisively in stoppage time, in the right place at the right time to finish after Luka Modric diverted Dani Carvajal’s cross into his path.
If Madrid’s comeback played with Bellingham’s heart, it broke Barcelona’s.
“The message for everyone, the players too, is that this season is long, it’s the 11th game,” said Xavi, trying to rouse his troops who seemed despondent at full-time.
In contrast, Bellingham was naturally overjoyed.
“It was a little bit emotional thinking about all the times I watched (the Clasico) on my sofa with my family,” added Bellingham.
“I said to them today it was my turn to make an impression — I’ve done that and I’m really happy.”