Jude Bellingham celebrates after netting Real Madrid's late winner against Union Berlin
Jude Bellingham celebrates after netting Real Madrid's late winner against Union Berlin AFP News

Jude Bellingham has been living in a fairytale since joining Spanish giants Real Madrid this summer. After a stellar start to La Liga, the young Englishman has now scored in his UEFA Champions League debut for the club and even rescued them from what could have been an embarrassing draw against minnows Union Berlin.

The 14-time Champions League winners opened their 2023-24 Champions League campaign by hosting debutantes Union Berlin at the newly-refurbished Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Anyone who watches football knows that very few things are as magical as Champions League nights at Real Madrid's home ground, and this particular Wednesday was no exception.

Bellingham continues his impressive streak

The former Borussia Dortmund star made his first appearance for his new club in Europe's most prestigious club competition after having already scored five goals in as many matches in La Liga. He made it six for six on his Champions League debut by scoring the winning goal in the 94th minute for Los Blancos, who completely dominated over Union Berlin but struggled to find a finisher.

Bellingham continues to prove himself worthy of wearing the famous white shirt, as he opened his arms to the Bernabeu faithful who were singing a chorus of the famous Beatles anthem, "Hey Jude".

Union Berlin almost held the 14-time Champions to a draw

It was a David vs. Goliath evening in Champions League terms as the most successful team in history hosted the newcomers. However, Union Berlin did not allow themselves to be intimidated by Real Madrid's trophy cabinet.

The German side managed to hold of a relentless attack from the hosts thanks largely to the depth of experience provided by veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci. Their Danish keeper Frederik Ronnow also provided a masterclass all evening, denying attempts at goal from the likes of Rodrygo, Luka Modric and Joselu.

The managers made the difference

As the match drew closer to the end of regulation time, Real Madrid kept creating scoring opportunities. Union Berlin held on, and it looked like they would be able to come off with an impressive point against the European giants.

However, the managers played a crucial role in the closing stages, with their decisions making a huge impact on the eventual result. First, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti brought on master playmaker Toni Kroos in place of Eduardo Camavinga alongside Federico Valverde, who replaced Aurelien Tchouameni.

Real Madrid had a fresh midfield, and they were able to keep a whopping 76 per cent of possession, and attack with even more accuracy. Then, Union Berlin boss Urs Fischer surprisingly decided to sub out Bonucci in favour of youngster Paul Jaeckel, even though the Italian has blocked nearly as many shots as their keeper.

True enough, the substitutes made the difference in the late stages of extra time. Five minutes were added, and just as the final minute started. Kroos played a short corner to Valverde, who then took a shot towards goal. The ball bounced off at least two more players, sending Ronnow off to one side before falling in front of Bellingham.

The Englishman put himself at the right spot just a yard away from the face of the goal, where Bonucci would have been standing. In the absence of the Italian, it took Bellingham just a split second to strike into the back of the open net.

It was a goal reminiscent of club legend Sergio Ramos' late heroics, and Bellingham has proven himself to be the new darling of the Bernabeu crowd.

Real Madrid are off to a great start to the 2023-24 campaign despite missing Vinicius Junior and Thibaut Courtois to injury. They also lost star striker Karim Benzema over the summer, but with six wins out of six games, things are looking great for Ancelotti's side.

Bellingham meanwhile, is living the dream. After being awarded as player of the match, he said: "Ever since I can remember watching TV I've been watching Madrid and now I've worn this shirt and scored for them."