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Jude Bellingham was sent off in a chaotic finish after having a last-gasp goal denied in Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Valencia.

A statement Vinicius Jr brace rescued a point for Los Blancos in a four-goal thriller that saw Valencia hit two in three minutes to stun the Spanish leaders as Bellingham made his return from injury.

It was a game with highly charged emotions for both sides – Vinicius returning to the scene of his high-profile racist abuse in May 2023 but starting the game by applauding a ceremony to honour the 10 people killed by an apartment block fire in Valencia last week.

The Mestella crowd proved the difference from the first minute and were rewarded when a quick-fire double put Los Ches ahead – Hugo Duro providing the first after some dogged home play and a slice of luck before Dani Carvajal gifted Roman Yaremchuk another moments later.

Vinicius wasn’t to be outdone though – he gave the hosts a lifeline in the last seconds of the first half and celebrated with the Black power salute in front of the Valencia fans before heading his side level in the second half.

That was how it stayed until full-time, but not for the lack of trying. Valencia saw a late penalty correctly overturned by VAR and the referee then blew for full-time as Real Madrid were sending a cross into the box… That Bellingham hit the net from. In the aftermath, Bellingham was shown a red card for his reaction.

Girona and Barcelona could now cut Real’s advantage to four and six points respectively if they win tomorrow.

Girona head into the Mediterranean to face relegation-threatened Mallorca while Barcelona have a tougher assignment travelling coast-to-coast to take on fifth-placed Athletic Blibao – who could move into the Champions League spots if results go their way.

That game has quite the standard to live up to though. The Estadio Mestella was already at boiling point before kick-off for Valencia’s first game since the tragedy, and the atmosphere got even more intense when Rodrygo inexplicably escaped without punishment for elbowing home captain Jose Gaya in the back.

Real Madrid looked rattled in the first half and Valencia took full advantage but Vinicius’ goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time – such a lengthy period thanks to Gaya’s injury – gave them hope before the Brazilian repeated the feat to provide the perfect response to the whistles that met him whenever he took the ball.

Talking Point – Madrid show Real steel to rescue point

Real Madrid struggled to get any handle on the game in the first half, trying to calm the vociferous home crowd with strong spells of possession that never threatened an end product.

Bellingham and Vinicius were on completely different wavelengths for much of the first half too with, as Los Blancos were too often limited to pot shots from distance against the organised Valencia defence.

However, they were rewarded when Carlo Ancelotti shifted his side to play more directly. The Valencia defence tired and gaps began to appear that Bellingham and substitutes Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz could more easily exploit – eventually leading to the equaliser.

Bellingham had an opportunity to put his side level earlier in the second half but fired at Giorgi Mamardashvili after a superbly-created chance – and also had the ball in the net at full-time only to see his winner chalked off.

However, the game was marred by truly horrific late injury for Monctar Doakhaby when Aurelien Tchouameni fell onto the centre-back’s planted leg, and he was stretched off.

Player of the Match – Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Both of Real Madrid’s forwards looked on edge from the first minute and after the Gaya incident, Vinicius was lucky to escape his own booking for a late shove of Pepelu.

But while Rodrygo cut a frustrated figure for much of the game before being replaced by Brahim Diaz for Ancelotti’s first substitution, Vinicius elevated his game to a higher level and picked up the point for Real Madrid.

Player Ratings

VALENCIA: Mamardashvili 6, Foulquier 8, Diakhaby 5, Mosquera 6, Gaya, Perez 7, Pepelu 6, Guerra 7, Canos 7, Yaremchuk 7, Duro. Subs: Lopez 6, Guillamon 5, Gonzalez 6, Amallah 6, Ozkacar 6.

REAL MADRID: Lunin 6, Carvajal 6, Rudiger 6, Tchouameni 7, Mendy 5, Valverde 6, Kroos 5, Camavinga 7, Bellingham 7, Rodrygo 5, Vinicius 8. Subs: Diaz 7, Modric 7, Joselu 6, Garcia 7, Nacho 6.

Match Highlights

10’ – HOW’S HE MISSED THAT? Not a player, but the referee! It should be one yellow-card each as Rodrygo was late to a challenge on Gaya and then lashed out with his elbow, catching the Valencia captain in the back. The referee has missed it but Gaya is getting plenty of medical attention, Rodrygo said something under his breath too but blocked his mouth from the cameras while he did it.

27’ – GOAL! VALENCIA 1-0 REAL MADRID (DURO): The Mestella erupts! On such an emotional night for the Valencia fans, Hugo Duro has rewarded that support with a superb reaction header past Lunin! Guerra – the only change to last week’s goalless starting XI – won the ball back in midfield and fed Foulquier, who intially lost the ball to Vinicius but kept fighting and dug a cross deep into the penalty area. Fran Perez met it with a perfectly mishit half-volley that flew to Duro, who showed why he’s Valencia’s top scorer by burying his 11th of the campaign!

30’ – GOAL!! VALENCIA 2-0 REAL MADRID (YAREMCHUK): The league leaders have been at sixes and sevens since falling behind and Valencia made them pay! Superb pressing on Dani Carvajal forced the full-back to play a woefully underhit pass back to Lunin, allowing Yaremchuk to sprint in and take the ball round his desperate compatriot before firing into the empty net. What a three-minute spell!

45+5’ – GOAL!!! VALENCIA 2-1 REAL MADRID (VINICIUS): That’s out of nowhere! Valencia will feel disappointed to concede such a soft goal, Carvajal makes up for the second goal by sending in a low cross that Mamardashvili was extremely slow to react to, and couldn’t gather allowing Vinicius to fire home before celebrating with a black power salute.

56’ – BELLINGHAM SHOULD’VE SCORED! He’ll want that one back. Bellingham did brilliantly to float in behind the Valencia backline and latch onto a perfectly weighted pass before sending Christhian Mosquera sprawling with a frankly disgusting fake shot. Then he just needed to pull the trigger for his 17th goal of the La Liga season, but Mamardashvili stretched his leg out for a brilliant save.

76’ – GOAL!!!! VALENCIA 2-2 REAL MADRID (VINICIUS): Vinicius is HIM! Minutes after picking up a yellow card – on the site of his high-profile verbal racist attack last season, he’s levelled it. Time stood still for Modric on the edge of the area before he played in Brahim Diaz’s late run, and they were queuing up to get on the end of his cute cross.

90+1’ PENALTY! At least for now! Valencia lifted the ball into the box and Duro timed his run perfectly but hit the deck under pressure from Fran Garcia and the referee points to the spot! It looked like very light contact as Duro was going down independently and VAR are checking… And it is CHALKED OFF!, which is the correct decision. That will only add to the seven minutes of stoppage time originally signalled though.

90’+8 – GOAL DENIED AND RED CARD FOR JUDE! Bellingham heads into the net – but it won’t count as the referee had already blown his whistle. Bellingham then appears to be sent off by the referee for his reaction to the decision.

Key Stat

Duro’s 11th La Liga goal of the season puts him seventh in the race for the golden boot – level with Antoine Griezmann – while Bellingham failed to extend his lead.

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