Bellingham puts Barcelona and La Liga to bed in El Clasico as goal-line blunder aids Real Madrid

Will Ford
Bellingham Real Madrid
Jude Bellingham scored another injury time winner for Real Madrid.

Jude Bellingham scored his second injury-time winner in two El Clasicos in his debut season to all-but win La Liga for Real Madrid. What a ludicrous human being.

Credit to Barcelona for recognising a Real Madrid weakness and making the most of it – Andre Lunin was comically shaky under corners. He flapped at the ball as Andreas Christensen gave the visitors the lead and stood stock still as Ronald Araujo powered another header over the bar before a third corner bounced in his six yard box. But the real point of controversy came when Lunin was deemed to have scrambled Lamine Yamal’s front-post flick off his line. Controversial because of La Liga’s inexplicable lack of goal-line technology.

La Liga president Javier Tebas reportedly decided against the technology – used by all the other top five European leagues, as well as Eredivisie and the Championship – at the start of the season as he thought it was ‘too expensive’. It costs €3.5m, and apparently having realised the absurdity of that excuse, in the face of a very high profile case of its value in El Clasico, Tebas took to social media to post the scant examples of its failings, like an anti-vaxxer linking genetic diseases to an MMR jab, in a bid to shirk blame and chastisement from Barcelona fans.

‘No comment’ was his accompanying caption alongside three stories, including Sheffield United’s denial of a clear goal in the 0-0 draw against Aston Villa in 2020 after the referee’s watch failed to buzz. In an apology at the time, Hawk-Eye said ‘this level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the system has been in operation’, and amid the multifarious complaints about all other aspects of video technoogy in the Premier League, the goal-line reviews have been an objectively brilliant addition to the game, purely because of the system’s objectivity.

There was no clear angle available to either confirm or deny whether the ball had crossed the line, but if it did the fact that it wasn’t awarded could effectively have been the difference between Barcelona having a chance in the title race or not. Had they won this game they would be five points off Real Madrid with six games to play, rather than 11 as they now are after Jude Bellingham’s injury-time winner.

A draw was probably the fair result. Lamine Yamal was a constant threat for Barcelona, giving Eduardo Camavinga at left-back the runaround, but Vinicius Junior was similarly dangerous on the break for Real Madrid. Lunin palmed Yamal’s cross into the path of Fermin Lopez, who tapped home to give Barcelona the lead, before Vinicius’ fizzed cross found Lucas Vazquez at the back post for the full-back to level the scores.

Vinicus had earlier scored from the spot for Madrid but was seen chuntering away as he was taken off with ten minutes to go. It appeared Carlo Ancelotti was settling for a point, but while Bellingham remains so too does the chance of a last-gasp victory. He’s back within one goal of Artem Dovbyk at the top of the La Liga goalscoring charts having scored 17 times in his debut season, and this was his second injury-time winner in two El Clasicos after his brace over Madrid’s greatest rivals in October.

This was by no means one of his better games, and there’s little doubt his performance levels have dipped in recent weeks. But he made more tackles (4) than anyone else on the pitch, completed the most dribbles (3) and was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net to win the game.

And ultimately win La Liga. Barcelona will be understandably frustrated having given as good as they got at the Bernabeu, particularly with that ghost goal in mind, but Madrid have been vastly superior this season, in large part down to Jude Bellingham, an extraorinarily talented and mature footballer, who’s been the difference-maker time and again in a ludicrous first campaign for Los Blancos.