BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Jude Bellingham has shown once again that Real Madrid signed much more than just a promising midfielder this summer.
The 14-time European champions discovered a superb scorer who took his tally to 10 goals in as many games on Saturday after netting twice to help rout Osasuna 4-0 and keep the Spanish league lead.
Not only filling the big boots of an aging Luka Modric, the 20-year-old Bellingham has also helped Madrid to quickly move past the exit of Karim Benzema amid a still unsuccessful pursuit of Kylian Mbappé.
“He puts on his Super Man 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 oozing with confidence when he accepted the No. 5 of Zinedine Zidane at Madrid. But nobody expected him to score like this, 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 only failed to score in two of eight league games played. 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 goals in 42 games in all of 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 to join in the attack. His first goal 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 oncharging Bellingham.
Bellingham did the rest by using one touch to cut further in the heart of the box before firing over goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.
He struck again in the 54th when he worked a quick one-two passing combination 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 about Bellingham.
“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 1-0 at Cadiz. Barcelona is four points behind Madrid before the defending champions visit Granada on Sunday.
Osasuna, which slipped into 11th place, had chances just before halftime to level the score, but both Jon Moncayola and Ante Budimir missed the target.
Its only relief in an otherwise painful game 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 was enough to give Girona the win against a Cadiz team that played 80 minutes with a man down.
The midfielder scored with a strike from the edge of the area after he was set up by right back Yan Couto.
Cadiz played with 10 men from 10th minute after Darwin Machis saw a direct red card for a foul on Yangel Herrera.
Cadiz is 13th after losing its first home game of the season.
“It was going to be a tough game since they always press more at home, but the game was in our hands after the sending off,” García said. “We knew that with 10 they would pack their area, and when Yan finally found me I was able to put it in.”
Girona, a team from northeast Catalonia partly owned by Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership, had entered the previous round as leader after winning six games in a row before it lost 3-0 to Madrid last weekend.