SC Braga 1-2 Real Madrid: Jude Bellingham scores again as los Blancos claim Iberian bragging rights

Undefeated in all competitions since their humiliating loss to Atlético Madrid on September 24, Carlo Ancelotti’s side ventured across the Iberian peninsula on Tuesday – as los Blancos prepared to face a buoyant SC Braga side at the Estádio Municipal de Braga.

With os Arsenalistas also enjoying a six-game unbeaten run of their own, a Pedreira was set to host a spectacular evening of European football, as these two sides clashed for the first time in history.

BRA: Matheus; Borja, Niakaté, Saatçi, Mendes; Al Musrati, Carvalho; R Horta, Salazar, Djaló; Banza

RMA: Kepa; García, Rüdiger, Nacho, Carvajal; Camavinga, Valverde, Modrić; Bellingham; Vini Jr, Rodrygo

Despite a bright start for Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti’s back line looked to come under threat in the fourth minute at a Pedreira, as Braga attempted a stunning acrobatic shot on goal amidst a moment of chaos – but with plenty of bodies in the box, the Portuguese hosts were denied a shock opener.

Yet despite that brief scare, los Blancos quickly resumed to business as usual, with Luka Modrić attempting to find Jude Bellingham with a stunning ball over the top. A vital intervention from Joe Mendes saw the chance go amiss though, with the ex-Dortmund star unable to add to his impressive tally as yet.

With their attacking waves seemingly unrelenting, los Merengues would eventually find a way through in the 16th minute. Displaying his pace and skill on the left flank, Vini Jr was able to cut inside and pirouette before sliding a ball across the face of goal – with his compatriot Rodrygo bundling home to hand the visitors the advantage.

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But faced with a Braga side that was defending resolutely while also creating chances of their own, Ancelotti’s men knew that a one-goal lead would not necessarily secure three points. Fran García and Vini Jr linked up sweetly on the left, with the latter switching the play incisively for Dani Carvajal, although the right-back could only slice it behind for a goal kick.

It looked sure to be a squandered opportunity that would come back to bite los Blancos as Ricardo Horta found himself in a threatening position to attempt an outrageous finish from inside the box, though the Portuguese national could only drive his strike into the ground and save the defence’s blushes.

And while Bellingham thought he had added the second goal with ten minutes left to play before the break, his close-range finish was disallowed after a blatant offside in the buildup. Álvaro Djaló would also see a shot fly wide of the far post before being called offside at the other end of the pitch, as the visitors took a slender lead into half-time.

Just minutes into the second half, Bellingham would become the focal point of the Real Madrid attack once more as a cross from a wide area left him perfectly positioned to beat Matheus, although the goalkeeper was able to push the Englishman’s thunderous shot over the woodwork.

The Braga shotstopper would certainly find himself under intense scrutiny throughout the second period, producing a fine save as the hour mark approached to deny Edouardo Camavinga’s curling strike from the edge of the penalty area.

But Matheus was rendered useless in the 61st minute, unable to prevent Bellingham from continuing his fine run of goalscoring form – as England’s midfield maestro swept an effort into the far corner, much like Camavinga’s just a minute or two earlier.

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Real Madrid’s two-goal advantage lasted just two minutes though, with the Estádio Municipal de Braga erupting into a cauldron of theatrical celebration when Álvaro Djaló beat Kepa from close range – and os Arsenalistas clearly felt they had a game on their hands.

It certainly served to swing the momentum in the hosts’ favour for the next fifteen minutes or so – although that looked set to change when Vini Jr found himself through on goal and able to beat Matheus. To the relief of the home fans though, the Brazilian was judged to be offside.

There would be two more final glimmers of hope for the Braga faithful though, as a VAR check for a potential penalty was announced. The elation was short-lived though, with the replays showing that there had not been a handball offence – and when Abel Ruiz found himself in a lethal goalscoring position in stoppage time, he blazed over the bar.

A spirited performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s side saw Real Madrid edge out a hard-fought win at the Estádio Municipal de Braga, with resolute defending needed throughout the closing stages to confirm three points after goals from Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham.