BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Jude Bellingham’s double led Real Madrid’s 3-1 fightback at Almeria on Saturday, taking his tally to three goals in two games since arriving to the Spanish league.
The 20-year-old England midfielder debuted for Madrid last weekend with a goal to seal victory at Athletic Bilbao in their season opener.
He improved on that superb start for the 14-time European champion with his brace and an assist at Almeria to help overturn an early goal by the modest host.
Vinícius Júnior added a third goal to seal the victory after he received the ball from Bellingham.
Bellingham, who joined Madrid on a 130-million-euro ($142 million) move from Borussia Dortmund this summer, scored eight goals in the Bundesliga last season.
Wearing the No. 5 of Madrid great Zinedine Zidane, Bellingham has immediately taken on a leading role on the field in Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The coach credited Bellingham’s character, and the experience he has already accumulated at a young age, as key.
“His maturity, his personality and the three years he played in Germany are the reasons why he is adapting so well to our league and to our style,” Ancelotti said.
According to Opta statistics, at 20 years, 51 days old, Bellingham became the second youngest player to score in his first two Spanish league games in this century. Athletic Bilbao’s Markel Suseata, at 19 years, 275 days old, was the youngest to do so in 2017.
Madrid’s player wore T-shirts in support of Éder Militão, who tore a ligament in his left knee at Bilbao. That followed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois tearing a knee ligament in practice. Both will be sidelined for months after surgeries.
Former Real Madrid youth player Sergio Arribas gave Almeria a third-minute lead from a counterattack. Lucas Robertone sped down the left flank and crossed to the far post where Arribas headed past Andriy Lunin, who started while newcomer Kepa Arrizabalaga sat on the bench.
“It was going to be a difficult game for us,” Arribas said. “We tried to take the game at them … but if they have their opportunities, they will finish you off.”
Bellingham brought Madrid back in the 19th when he used his shoulder to control a header by Federico Valverde, and shot off the turn to beat goalie Luís Maximiano.
Despite playing with some players who spent just weeks or days with the club, including Maximiano, who arrived this week on loan from Lazio, Almeria was able to take Madrid on — until Bellingham put the visitors ahead.
His third goal in just 150 minutes with Madrid came when he slid between two defenders and used the side of his head to redirect in a lobbed pass by Toni Kroos.
Vinícius’ goal in the 73rd was a beauty. The Brazil forward, who had been kept in check, beat Maximiano with a scooped shot from near the edge, which appeared to take a slight deflection before floating in.
“I hope that (my connection) with Jude can be like the one I had with Karim and produce so many goals and assists,” Vinícius said about his new teammate.
BENÍTEZ GETS POINT
Rafa Benítez saw his new Celta Vigo team earn its first point after Óscar Mingueza snatched an injury-time equalizer to draw at Real Sociedad 1-1.
Sociedad was in charge after an early goal by Ander Barrenetxea from an assist by Take Kubo.
But Celta hemmed Sociedad into its box late. Goalkeeper Álex Remiro made several stops, including one to deny Mingueza, before the former Barcelona defender tapped in a deflected pass.
Sociedad, which qualified for the Champions League this season, also drew its home opener with Girona 1-1 after leading.