Barcelona: Jude Bellingham equaled the fantastic scoring numbers at Real Madrid of Cristiano Ronaldo’s start with the club Saturday, showing again that Real Madrid got much more than a promising midfielder when they signed him this summer.
The England international took his tally to 10 in as many games after netting twice to help Madrid rout Osasuna 4-0 and keep the Spanish league lead. That was the best scoring start for a new Madrid player since Ronaldo also scored 10 in his first 10 games after his 2009 transfer from Manchester United.
“I’m a confident guy, but I didn’t expect such a good start,” Bellingham said. “At this stage of the season you can’t ask for more.”
Not only has the 20-year-old Bellingham started filling the big boots of an aging Luka Modric, he is also helping Madrid to quickly move past the exit of Karim Benzema amid a still unsuccessful pursuit of Kylian Mbappé.
“He puts on his Superman cape in nearly every game,” veteran defender Dani Carvajal, who set up Bellingham’s opener, said about his new teammate.
Bellingham sent a message that he was ready to handle high expectations when he accepted the No. 5 of Zinedine Zidane at Madrid. But nobody expected him to score at this rate, not even his coach. And this was for a team that was supposed to struggle after Benzema, its top scorer for the past four seasons, left for Saudi Arabia.
Bellingham leads the league with eight goals — and has scored in six of eight league games. He has also scored in both of Madrid’s Champions League games, including a 3-2 win at Napoli this week.
“His start to the season has been a surprise in every aspect. Nobody expected him to score like this,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
His sudden transformation into a serial goal-scorer since joining Madrid from Borussia Dortmund, where he scored 14 times in 42 games last season, has quickly elevated Bellingham to the role of team leader.
He has proven nearly unstoppable for defenders to keep track of when he makes his runs forward from the midfield. His first goal Saturday in the ninth minute was a product of one of those runs, when Carvajal saw him coming and used one touch to knock a pass by Modric into the path of the charging Bellingham.
Bellingham used one touch to cut further into the heart of the box and fired over goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.
He struck again in the 54th when he worked a quick one-two with Federico Valverde while surrounded by defenders in the area.
It was his second brace for Madrid after also scoring two in a 3-1 win at Almeria.
Vinícius Júnior added a third goal on the break in the 65th and five minutes later set up Joselu Mato for Madrid’s fourth to crush Osasuna in a rematch of last year’s Copa del Rey final.
“(Bellingham is) incredible. He was born to play for Madrid and to define an era,” Vinícius said.
“I hope this connection that we have lasts for the many years that we can play together. I love playing with Jude.”
Madrid remained two points ahead of Girona, which won at Cadiz 1-0. Barcelona is four points behind Madrid before the defending champion visits Granada Sunday.
Aurélien Tchouaméni, a holding midfielder, had to play as a central defender for Madrid with Éder Militão and David Alaba injured and Nacho Fernández suspended. That left Antonio Rüdiger as the only central defender available, but Osasuna was unable to take advantage of Tchouaméni’s lack of experience.
The only relief in an otherwise painful game for 10th-place Osasuna was Herrera’s save of a penalty kick by Joselu to deny Madrid a fifth goal.
Osasuna coach Jagoba Arrasate also praised Bellingham.
“(Bellingham) is a super complete player. He plays well, scores, gives assists. He is still young and will only get better,” said Arrasate, who watched the game from the stands while serving a suspension.
GARCÍA GOAL FOR GIRONA
Aleix García’s goal in the 59th minute gave Girona the win against a Cadiz team that played for 80 minutes down a man.
Darwin Machis saw a direct red card in the 10th minute for a foul on Yangel Herrera.
Cadiz is 12th after losing its first home game of the season.
Girona, a team from northeast Catalonia partly owned by Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership, entered the previous round as leader after winning six games in a row before it lost to Madrid 3-0 last weekend.
SEVILLA SALVAGES POINT
Youssef En-Nesyri headed in a stoppage-time goal to complete a fightback by Sevilla in a 2-2 draw at home with Rayo Vallecano, which led 2-0 at halftime.
Valencia also drew 1-1 at Mallorca.