Jude Bellingham continued his superb start to life in La Liga with a late header to earn Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo on Friday.
The England international netted his fourth goal in three matches in the Spanish top flight to end Celta Vigo’s stubborn resistance and disappoint the hosts in their centenary week.
Rodrygo had missed a penalty for Real Madrid, while Vinicius Junior went off in the first half after appearing to suffer a thigh problem, although early Spanish reports suggest it will not keep him out for too long.
Kepa Arrizabalaga made his debut in goal for Real Madrid on loan from Chelsea as a replacement for the injured Thibaut Courtois, while Carlo Ancelotti continued with Bellingham in the No 10 position, where he has proven lethal.
“Bellingham (was) good, he’s still scoring and adding to the team,” said Ancelotti.
“(Vinicius) wanted to continue, so I don’t think it was that serious, he tried, then it hurt a bit.”
England international Bellingham continued his fine goalscoring form against Celta, eventually finding a gap in their defensive armour as former Madrid manager Rafa Benitez lined up with a sturdy five-man defensive line.
Celta thought they had gone ahead early on but Jorgen Strand Larsen’s goal was ruled out for a soft foul by the forward on Arrizabalaga.
Vinicius departed for Spanish international Joselu after 17 minutes with his thigh bandaged, a worry for Madrid given their squad is relatively light this season in attack, with Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema and other forwards departing.
Former Barcelona defender Oscar Mingueza came close after half an hour with a close range effort on the stretch that flew off-target, while Joselu had a goal chalked off for offside.
Madrid found it hard to get Bellingham on the ball amid Celta’s suffocating defence, but Rodrygo burst through to win a penalty.
The Brazilian forward had been fortunate to win it after Celta Vigo goalkeeper Ivan Villar pushed the ball away before the pair collided.
However Villar produced a superb save from his spot kick to keep the score level, before Bellingham intervened.
Ancelotti appeared angry with Rodrygo after the penalty miss and the Italian said it was because he had decided Luka Modric should take the penalty but the message didn’t get through.
“There’s no freedom (for them to choose)… I don’t know what happened between them, I think they chose Rodrygo,” said the coach.
Bellingham broke the deadlock in the 81st minute when he stayed onside and nodded home from point blank range after Joselu headed the ball towards goal.
The former Borussia Dortmund player previously said he was “10 times better” than last season because of the quality around him at Madrid, but he has been Los Blancos’ best player by some distance thus far.
Madrid’s performance was not as convincing as in their opening two triumphs but they maintained their 100 percent record and provisionally lead the table by three points.
“It was a game that we had to mature, we needed patience and I’m happy for the points,” Arrizabalaga told Real Madrid TV.
“I’m getting confidence bit by bit, linking into the team. I’m excited to help, I’m happy with the clean sheet, for the result that we take away and for the three points.”
Benitez’s Celta are without a victory but showed signs of improvement in a solid display.
“We can’t ask for more from these fans, it’s wonderful to play in front of them,” said Celta keeper Villar, happy with the party atmosphere to mark the club’s centenary year.
“I touched the ball, I don’t know how it looks on the camera,” he added, when asked about conceding a penalty for a supposed foul against Rodrygo.
Earlier Real Sociedad drew 0-0 at promoted side Las Palmas, their third consecutive draw of the season.