Bellingham double helps Real Madrid thump Girona
Last updated on .From the section European Football
Jude Bellingham scored twice before going off injured as leaders Real Madrid thumped title challengers Girona to go five points clear in La Liga.
Bellingham then scored his first of the game from a sublime Vinicius pass before converting his 20th of the season after half-time.
Rodrygo made it 4-0, before Joselu struck the post with a late penalty.
Bellingham has now scored more La Liga goals for Real Madrid than any other midfielder in a single season this century - but the England international's night ended on a sour note as he was forced off with an ankle injury.
He fell to the ground after colliding with Pablo Torre and was treated on the pitch for several minutes before gingerly getting to his feet.
Determined to continue, the 20-year-old struck his second of the game after Paulo Gazzaniga had saved Vinicius' initial effort, but he was too hurt to carry on and was replaced by Brahim Diaz moments later.
He was pictured on the Madrid bench with an ice pack strapped to his foot, but manager Carlo Ancelotti says the injury is nothing more than a sprained ankle and is "hopeful" Bellingham will recover in time for Tuesday's trip to RB Leipzig in the Champions League.
'They are in awe of Jude'
Bellingham has exceeded all expectations since joining Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund in an £88m deal last summer.
In November, he became the first player to score 14 goals in his first 15 appearances for the club in a 3-0 victory at Cadiz, surpassing the previous record held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano and Pruden Sanchez.
He is also the first Madrid player to score in each of his first four Champions League appearances for the club - and remains La Liga's top scorer this season with 16 goals.
He had only found the net once since the turn of the year, but Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague feels the former Birmingham player has blossomed into a "complete midfielder" at the Bernabeu, attributing Bellingham's lack of goals to a change in position.
"They are in awe of Jude in Madrid," Balague said. "He is, perhaps with [Antoine] Griezmann, the best player in La Liga at the moment.
"[His recent lack of goals] is partly down to the fact that he's asked to be more involved in both offensive and defensive work - and a little bit deeper.
"But [he is] in the top seven in goals scored, actions finished, and in defensive stats [like] recovering the ball. He's been outstanding."
Vinicius, who registered his 12th goal of the season against Girona, was just as effusive in his praise of his team-mate, telling Real Madrid TV: "Jude is a star.
"He scores a lot of goals and I hope he can keep going. Jude has been the best this season. We're doing things well and we're happy because we're a family."
The victory extends Madrid's unbeaten La Liga run to 18 matches - their longest stretch without defeat since 2021.
Girona, meanwhile, remain in an excellent position in the top four despite slipping to just their second league defeat of an outstanding campaign.