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 LaLiga season on Saturday.
Player-of-the-match Bellingham, signed for 103 million euros plus 30 million euros 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.”
Leipzig stun Bayern with Olmo hat-trick
Dani Olmo scored a hat-trick to guide RB Leipzig to a 3-0 victory in the German Super Cup over champions Bayern Munich on Saturday, spoiling record signing Harry Kane’s debut for the Bavarians.
England captain Kane had signed a four-year deal amid a media frenzy only hours earlier and came off the bench in the second half but could not prevent a season-opening defeat against the German Cup winners.
The hosts’ performance left coach Thomas Tuchel fuming, saying it was as if the team had done no work in their four-week pre-season.
“It is a big problem because it feels as if we had done nothing in the past four weeks,” Tuchel said.
“I cannot explain it. It was just not enough in every department. I have just no idea why. There is no relation between our form and attitude going into the game and our performance on the pitch.
“It is not good. It is the worse thing because there is such a big discrepancy,” Tuchel said.
Spaniard Olmo pounced on Bayern’s sloppy defending in the third minute to slot in for the lead and he added another with a superb flick and turn that left two defenders standing a minute before the break.
Leipzig’s Mohamed Simakan had almost gifted Bayern an equaliser a little earlier, hitting the post in his effort to clear the ball.
With Bayern wasteful up front, as was the case for much of last season, and squandering half a dozen chances, Tuchel brought on Kane, whose transfer cost a reported Bundesliga record 100 million euros, in the 64th minute to huge cheers from Bayern fans.
He hardly got a look-in, however, with only three touches and it was Olmo who scored again, this time with a penalty only four minutes later, to secure the first title of the season for his team.
“It was amazing night. We worked a lot over 90 minutes, also with possession,” Olmo said. “I think it was a perfect game.
“We expected to win, we wanted to lift this trophy and there is no better way to start the season,” he said.
“We want to be up there. We have a competitive team.”
Bayern, who kick off their Bundesliga season on Friday against Werder Bremen, will be hoping the addition of Kane will dramatically improve their conversion rate in attack this season, a problem they have been struggling with since the departure of Robert Lewandowski last year.
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