Sunday, May 19, 2024

Bellingham’s late strike hands Real Madrid ‘El Clasico’ win


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MADRID, April 22: With a late strike by Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid took a huge step toward winning the Spanish league.
Bellingham, who quickly became one of Madrid’s most important players after his transfer last year, likely sealed the title on Sunday by scoring a stoppage-time winner in a 3-2 victory over Barcelona in the final “clasico” of the season.
Barcelona twice took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium but Madrid rallied to win for a comfortable 11-point cushion over its second-place rival entering the final six rounds.
Bellingham scored the winning goal from a difficult angle one minute into stoppage time with a left-foot strike into the top of the net after a cross toward the far post by Lucas Vázquez, who also scored and set up a goal by Vinícius Júnior.
It was the third straight win for Madrid over Barcelona this season. Madrid is unbeaten in 26 league games, since losing at Atletico Madrid in September.
The clasico came four days after Madrid eliminated Manchester City on penalties in England to advance to the Champions League semifinals.
Barcelona had been eliminated a day earlier by Paris Saint-Germain after a loss at home, leaving the league as the Catalan team’s only title opportunity for the season.
Barcelona, the defending league champion, came to the Spanish capital looking to revive its title chances and took an early lead with a header by Andreas Christensen six minutes into the match.
The hosts equalized with Vinícius converting an 18th-minute penalty kick before Barcelona went ahead again with Fermín López’s goal from close range in the 69th. Vázquez, who was fouled after a run inside the area to prompt the penalty converted by Vinícius, evened the match again after a cross by the Brazil forward in the 73rd.
Vázquez was one of the changes made to the squad by Ancelotti after the match against City. He also used Luka Modric alongside Toni Kroos in midfield, and Aurélien Tchouaméni in the defense.
Barcelona loudly complained about the penalty awarded to Madrid and wanted one for itself after a challenge on López in the second half.
It also complained over a potential goal in the first half when it wasn’t clear if the ball crossed the goal line before Lunin batted it away. It took several moments before video review determined that it was not a goal.
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández, likely making his last clasico appearance after saying he will leave the club at the end of the season, said his team played better and deserved to win. (AP)


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