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Bellingham scores again as Real return to La Liga top

Madrid, Dec 18 (EFE).- Englishman Jude Bellingham continued his scoring form as Real Madrid completed one of its most accomplished performances of the season to thrash Villarreal 4-1 and provisionally return to the top of the Spanish La Liga table on Sunday.

Real could not beat the Yellow Submarine in their last four matches, but goals from Bellingham, Rodrygo, Brahim Diaz, and Luka Modric ensured there was no repeat of the setback as Real took their tally to 42 points from 17 matches.

The Los Blancos may be overtaken by Girona on Monday should they beat Alaves, something that will also widen its gap with Barcelona, third in the table with 35 points after being held 1-1 at Valencia on Saturday.

However, not everything was good news for Real Madrid, as Austrian David Alava retired with a possible major injury to his left knee after a fight with Gerard Moreno, and Frenchman Ferland Mendy did not play the second half due to muscle discomfort.

If the injury is confirmed, it will be a big blow for Real, who have Brazilian Militao also absent for the entire season.

It will leave the side with only two center backs available in German Antonio Rudiger and Spanish Nacho Fernandez with half the season still to go.

Bellingham was once again decisive, heading home a pass by Croatian Modric to score his 13th goal in 15 matches, and Brazilian Rodrygo Goes further established Madrid superiority against a Villarreal side that was also hamstrung by several injury problems.

Jose Luis Morales scored for Villarreal nine minutes into the break, but it could cause no real trouble for Real, who maintained their pace well and remained as ambitious as they could be to be rewarded with two more goals from Diaz and Modric between 64 and 68 minutes.

Real Sociedad and Betis annulled each other in a 0-0 draw in their attempts to strengthen their European claims.

Although there was no goal, it was a very attractive match, with good football, daring chances on both goals, goals disallowed, shots against the woodwork, and good interventions by the goalkeepers.

The tie leaves Real Sociedad sixth, two points behind Athletic, and Betis three behind, although the point leaves a slightly better taste in the mouth of Chilean Manuel Pellegrini’s Bettis, which has already gone 12 games without losing. EFE

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