Soccer-Bellingham's strike hands Real comeback win over Barcelona

Soccer Football - LaLiga - Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - April 21, 2024 Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo celebrate with fans after Jude Bellingham scores their third goal REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID (Reuters) -LaLiga leaders Real Madrid's pursuit of a record-extending 36th Spanish title gathered momentum after Jude Bellingham scored a goal in added time to secure a 3-2 comeback win over Barcelona on Sunday.

Real twice fought back from a goal down before Bellingham smashed in the winner at the far post from about six yards out to beat the champions for a fourth successive time. The result left second-placed Barca 11 points adrift of the leaders with six games left.

Barca were left licking their wounds after being knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday in a heartbreaking 4-1 defeat against Paris St Germain.

Real's win, on the other hand, ended a perfect week for Carlo Ancelotti's side after they advanced to the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday after beating holders Manchester City on penalties.

"What a great night for being a Real Madrid fan, it's incredible," Luka Modric told Real Madrid TV.

"It's a win that edges us closer to the title, it's what we want. It was a great game, we never stopped believing. We were behind twice but kept fighting, playing well, pressing and in the end we came back time and time again."

Barca took the lead in the sixth minute when Andreas Christensen headed in following a corner after Real goalkeeper Andriy Lunin failed to clear the cross.

But Real Madrid piled on the pressure and Vinicius Jr equalised 12 minutes later from the penalty spot after Lucas Vazquez was fouled inside the box after dribbling past two defenders.

Barcelona complained as the match was paused for several minutes as the VAR tried to determine whether a Lamine Yamal effort had crossed the goal line, but it couldn’t find a clear camera angle and the decision not to award a goal stood.

LaLiga is the only major European league not to use goal-line technology.

Wasteful Real dominated the second half but missed several chances and allowed substitute Fermin Lopez to give the visitors the lead again in the 69th minute from a rebound, but Real hit back with a Lucas Vazquez volley four minutes later.

Real kept pushing for another goal and their perseverance paid off in added time when Vazquez raced down the right channel and crossed to Bellingham, who fired in the winner.

It was another tough loss for Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez, who announced in February that he was stepping down at the end of a difficult season.

"It's hard to find words for it. It's an accumulation of many things. We have not been at the level of competitiveness that we should have been. And that cost us," Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen told Movistar Plus+.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)

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