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Bellingham’s last-minute strike seals Real Madrid’s thrilling El Clasico victory

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Bellingham’s last-minute strike seals Real Madrid’s thrilling El Clasico victory

Jude Bellingham was the hero on the night as he gave Real Madrid a 3-2 win in the El Clasico against perennial rivals Barcelona

Barcelona, second, bounced back with a strong performance after their Champions League exit at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain but Bellingham demolished their last stand.

Madrid showed the same grit to stay in the match as they did midweek against Manchester City on the way to the final four in Europe before Bellingham’s knock-out blow left the Santiago Bernabeu crowd delighted.

The England international, Madrid’s top scorer with 21 goals across all competitions, netted twice in Madrid’s Clasico win over Barcelona in October and is shining in his first season in Spain.

“We had a great night with our fans, something we all deserved, we took a huge step towards La Liga,” Vazquez, key in all three Madrid goals, told Real Madrid TV.

“We’ve had a very good season, we’re on a very good path, now we just have to polish it off and we’ll go for everything.”

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti made three changes from the side that beat City, with Eduardo Camavinga moving to left-back to replace Ferland Mendy, while Luka Modric started in midfield.

Madrid’s penalty-saving hero against City, goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, made an early mistake to hand Barcelona the lead.

The Ukrainian strayed from his line to try and deal with a corner but got nowhere near the ball and Christensen nodded into the empty net.

However, Madrid were quickly level through Vinicius, who fired over a fine chance before levelling from the spot.

The sensational Vazquez escaped Joao Cancelo far too easily and was tripped in the area by 17-year-old Barca centre-back Pau Cubarsi.

Vinicius rolled home from the spot for his 19th goal of the season across all competitions.

Barcelona were not deterred and made inroads down their right flank with Lamine Yamal giving Camavinga a torrid time.

The 16-year-old starlet thought he had struck with a clever flick from a corner but Lunin pushed the ball to safety, with Barcelona arguing it had already crossed the line.

La Liga does not contract goal-line technology and using VAR the officials could not confirm the ball had completely entered the goal, so the Catalans were left frustrated.

“We deserved much more given the way we played but there’s not much we can do,” said Xavi.

“(Not having goal-line technology) is a disgrace.”

Yamal appealed for a penalty minutes later when Camavinga clipped him in the area but the referee waved their cries away.

Raphinha and Ilkay Gundogan both sent free-kicks narrowly off-target, with Barcelona only having converted one since Lionel Messi departed in 2021.

Barcelona were dealt a blow on the stroke of half-time when midfielder Frenkie de Jong was taken off on a stretcher after hurting his ankle in a challenge by Fede Valverde.

Xavi also brought Lopez on for Christensen at half-time and it paid dividends for the coach after a slower start to the second half.

The midfielder was in the right place at the right time to finish after 69 minutes when Lunin could only parry Yamal’s low effort back into danger.

However Madrid, seeking a fifth league and Champions League double, swiftly struck back when Vinicius crossed to the back post and Vazquez arrived to finish having lost his marker Cancelo.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen made a brilliant save to thwart Vinicius at his near post as the forward sprinted through on goal with Madrid looking to strike and virtually wrap up their La Liga title.

Bellingham dealt the killer blow, despite largely being kept quiet by the Catalans until he appeared to emphatically decide the match in stoppage time from Vazquez’s cross.

“We fight until the end and we never accept we’re beaten,” Vazquez added.

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