Thursday, September 21, 2023
Real Madrid clinched a 1-0 victory against Union Berlin at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Jude Bellingham scoring a crucial 94th-minute goal in their Group C opener.
The win spoiled Union Berlin's Champions League debut.
The match was heading for a draw until Federico Valverde's shot deflected off two Union players in the penalty area, setting up Bellingham to score his sixth goal in as many games this season.
The late goal not only secured victory but also maintained Real Madrid's flawless record this campaign, marking their sixth consecutive win.
Bellingham, who joined Madrid from Borussia Dortmund for €103 million in June, expressed his delight at his successful start, saying, "I'm a confident lad but I really couldn't have hoped for things to start as well as this in terms of goals."
He also credited his team for integrating him seamlessly into the squad.
In the first half, Real Madrid dominated possession but struggled to break down Union's resolute defence, marshaled by veteran Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci, a recent signing from Juventus. Real's Joselu had two early headed chances but failed to convert.
The second half saw Real Madrid launch a spirited offensive effort, with Rodrygo coming close to scoring twice, first having a shot saved by keeper Frederik Ronnow and then hitting the post with a powerful volley.
As the match progressed, Union Berlin began to tire, and Real Madrid continued to push forward. Substitute Valverde and Toni Kroos were brought on by manager Carlo Ancelotti to strengthen the midfield.
Despite late opportunities for Joselu, Antonio Rudiger, and Rodrygo, it seemed Union Berlin might secure a surprising result. However, Bellingham's goal in his Champions League debut for Real Madrid shattered their resistance.
While Union Berlin may be disappointed to concede late, their performance provided hope for their Champions League campaign, as they aim to progress beyond the group stage.
Union Berlin will host Portugal's Braga next on October 3, while Real Madrid will visit Italian champions Napoli.