Bellingham scores again as Real Madrid held to draw at Betis
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Jude Bellingham kept up his great scoring form since joining Real Madrid but his strike was not enough to save the injury-hit Spanish leaders from dropping points in a 1-1 draw at Real Betis on Saturday.
The England midfielder used his chest to cushion a nifty pass from Brahim Díaz before slotting under Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva to open the scoring in the 53rd minute.
Bellingham’s transformation into a clinical finisher with a league-leading 12 goals has kept Madrid at the top of the standings. He has 16 goals in 18 games between the domestic competition and the Champions League, compared to 14 goals in 42 games in all of last season for Borussia Dortmund.
Betis right back Aitor Ruibal equalized in the 66th from outside the right corner of the box with a powerful looping strike that sailed past goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.
The draw left Madrid atop the table, but Girona was just one point behind before it visits third-placed Barcelona on Sunday in a clash of Catalan clubs.
“Ruibal scored a fantastic goal and they drew level with us. (But) I am satisfied. You can’t always win,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said after his team’s run of five wins overall came to an end.
Both sides had late chances to snatch the victory. Former Madrid playmaker Isco Alarcón headed off the woodwork for Betis and Madrid substitute Joselu Mato shot inches wide.
Ruibal, an attacking player who has converted into a defender, had trouble keeping up with Madrid's Rodrygo early on. But he showed his scorer's instinct when he blasted home the equalizer on a counterattack that started when Bellingham lost the ball.
“To take a point against this rival, we have to be happy. The team competed like real animals,” Ruibal said. “I didn’t even think twice (before shooting)."
Ancelotti started Luka Modric after the veteran midfielder missed two games with a thigh problem. Modric, who has seen his playing time dwindle, appeared to be angry when he was substituted shortly after Ruibal's goal.
Lunin started for Madrid even though Kepa Arrizabalaga was back in the squad after recovering from a minor injury. Kepa joined Madrid at the start of the season after regular starter Thibaut Courtois tore a knee ligament.
“Lunin played well and I am giving him confidence, but we will see who plays in the next game,” Ancelotti said about Tuesday’s Champions League group stage game at Union Berlin.
Betis remained in seventh. Manuel Pellegrini’s team is undefeated in nine consecutive league games at its Benito Villamarín Stadium.
Real Sociedad eased to a 3-0 win at struggling Villarreal three days before the Basque Country club visits Inter Milan to decide which will win their Champions League group.
Sociedad, in fifth place, scored all three in a 12-minute span near the end of the first half.
Takefusa Kubo and Mikel Merino took turns setting up goals for one another and Martín Zubimendi added the last to deal the host a stinging loss under new coach Marcelino García Toral.
Canada forward Cyle Larin scored to give Mallorca a 1-0 win over Sevilla, earning the hosts their first home victory.
The loss will put more pressure on coach Diego Alonso, who has yet to oversee a win in the league or in the Champions League since taking over Sevilla in October.
Eighth-placed Las Palmas also won at Alaves 1-0 as the Canary Islands club continues to impress since returning to the top-flight.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer