Jude Bellingham scored what proved to be the winner for Real Madrid against Braga
Jude Bellingham scored what proved to be the winner for Real Madrid against Braga AFP News

Real Madrid CF maintained a flawless start to their 2023/24 UEFA Champions League campaign with a 1-2 victory on Tuesday night against SC Braga in Portugal. Englishman Jude Bellingham proved to be the hero once more, scoring the second goal of the night for Los Blancos, which helped them secure the narrow victory.

How did the match play out in Portugal?

The 14-time European Champions arrived as the favourites to win against the home side, but they knew that they could not risk being overconfident. Brazilian youngster Rodrygo had a slow start to the season, but he managed to draw first blood for Real Madrid after only 16 minutes in Braga. He also had another goal disallowed in the first half, but the fans at the Estadio Municipal de Braga pushed their team to fight hard against the European giants.

The half-time break came with a narrow 0-1 lead for Real Madrid, and Jude Bellingham stepped up in the second half to help pad the visitors' lead. He found the bottom corner in the 61st-minute with a classy shot that curled past the keeper. His teammates came in for a group hug before Bellingham faced the stands to show off his signature celebratory pose with both hands outstretched towards the heavens.

That goal proved to be the difference after Alvaro Djalo pulled a goal back for Braga just a few minutes later to cancel out Rodrygo's early goal. Unfortunately for the home side, they could not find the equaliser and it was Real Madrid that kept threatening to extend their advantage.

Vinicius Junior thought he had made a contribution later in the game, but his goal was also disallowed for offside. Veteran Luka Modric made a rare start for Ancelotti, and he took control of the midfield to create numerous attacking chances for Real Madrid.

The game ended on a bit of a sour note after tempers flared between Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger and some Braga players, but the situation was quickly defused by cooler heads.

Real Madrid stay on top of Group C

Los Blancos may be the most decorated team in Champions League history by a large margin, but they have not always enjoyed comfortable journeys to each of their fourteen trophies. However, this year could not have gone any better for Carlo Ancelotti's men after claiming all nine available points in the group stage thus far.

They are on top of Group C before the return legs get under way, with Napoli in second with six points and Braga in third with three. Winless Union Berlin are bringing up the rear, having failed to score any points thus far, but they still have three chances to remedy the situation.

Bellingham has already scored in three out of three Champions League games this season, proving himself to be a scoring behemoth for the Spanish giants. The 20-year-old midfielder has scored a total of 11 goals in 12 matches across all competitions for the club this season, cementing himself in Carlo Ancelotti's starting lineup.

Bellingham's fairytale journey at Real Madrid

Eyebrows were raised this summer when Los Blancos signed Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund after having just lost their prolific captain and striker, Karim Benzema. There was a lot of hype surrounding the club's rumoured interest in Kylian Mbappe and England captain Harry Kane, but Florentino Perez surprised the football world by remaining conservative during the summer transfer window.

Losing a player like Benzema did not trigger a massive spending spree, and the calm manner by which Perez and Ancelotti dealt with the blow has opened an opportunity for Bellingham to shine. The young England international said just days into his arrival that being surrounded by players of such immense quality and winning mentality as those in the Real Madrid squad had instantly transformed him.

The absence of Vini Jr. through injury at the start of the season also helped Bellingham gain the spotlight, but it has been a phenomenal sight to see them both able to excel while on the pitch together since the Brazilian's return.