BILBAO, Spain: Rodrygo and new recruit Jude Bellingham scored first-half goals to give Real Madrid a 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao to kick off their La Liga season on Saturday (Aug 12).
Player-of-the-match Bellingham, signed for €103 million plus €30 million in add-ons from Borussia Dortmund, looked unstoppable as he made relentless challenges and created several opportunities up front.
Following the exit of former Ballon D’Or winner Karim Benzema, who left for Saudi Arabia, the 20-year-old Bellingham combined well with Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr in the new 4-4-2 formation.
Federico Valverde had Real’s first chance on the 14th minute, with a bullet strike from range that flew just wide up the crossbar.
They opened the scoring in the 28th minute after a mistake from Athletic’s defence, who failed to clear a challenge won against Dani Carvajal inside the box. Rodrygo was fast enough to react and recover the loose ball, netting a clever finish between goalkeeper Unai Simon and the near post.
Bellingham then netted a delightful volley eight minutes later after latching onto a David Alaba corner with an arching shot which looped over Simon and into the top right corner.
Real were in total control but were wasteful in the second half and missed several opportunities to extend their lead.
They also lost defender Eder Militao, who left the pitch in tears with what looked like a left knee injury five minutes after the break.
With the game in the bag, coach Carlo Ancelotti made several changes and appeared satisfied after the final whistle.
“Bellingham is a fantastic kid, he displays quality, personality, he is a hard worker. He is just fantastic,” Ancelotti told Movistar Plus.
“He is very motivated to be here, he is a fantastic player and a very, very important signing.
“We were on fire and motivated, we had a very good collective commitment, attitude, won many challenges, worked together defensively, a clean sheet was positive … it was a complete game, a very high level first half and a second half of total control.”