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Bellingham brace helps leaders Madrid crush title rivals Girona

AFP – Jude Bellingham struck twice as leaders Real Madrid took control of La Liga with a punishing 4-0 win over second-placed Girona yesterday, opening up a five-point cushion.

Vinicius Junior drove home the opener and then set up Bellingham for the second as Carlo Ancelotti’s side dominated the Catalan minnows, leaving the surprise title contenders reeling.

Bellingham tapped in the third after the break from close range but limped off with an ankle problem early in the second half.

Rodrygo kept the goals flowing with a fine individual effort as the record 35-time Spanish champions taught Girona, in the top flight for only the fourth year in their history, a compelling lesson.

Victory leaves Madrid 11 points clear of champions Barcelona in third place.

“Jude is a star, he scores a lot of goals and I hope he can keep going,” Vinicius told Real Madrid TV. “Jude has been the best this season, we’re doing things well and we’re happy because we’re a family.”

Madrid’s triumph was convincing, with swagger at times but also sweat to keep the league’s top goalscoring side quiet, despite significant injury absences.

Carlo Ancelotti started with a makeshift central defensive pairing of Dani Carvajal and Aurelien Tchouameni, with all four of the club’s specialists in the position out.

Girona were without the suspended Daley Blind and Yangel Herrera, as well as coach Michel Sanchez, watching on helplessly from a high vantage point as his team were dismantled.

“When you face opponents of such a level, it lets you see what your reality is, a bit,” admitted Michel, who said his team were still having an “incredible” season despite the result.

Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham scores a goal during a match against Girona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. PHOTO: AP