MADRID: Rodrygo made the most of his last-minute addition to the Real Madrid lineup, scoring two beautiful goals and setting up another by Jude Bellingham in a 3-0 win against Cadiz that put Madrid at the top of the Spanish league on Sunday.
Rodrygo swiftly went past the Cadiz defenders before hitting the top corner with goals in the 14th and 64th minutes, and then provided the assist in Bellingham’s 74th-minute goal.
Madrid moved a point ahead of Girona, who hosts Athletic Bilbao on Monday. Madrid were four points ahead of third-place Atletico Madrid, who beat Mallorca 1-0 at home on Saturday with a goal from Antoine Griezmann. Atletico have a game in hand.
It was Bellingham’s 14th goal with Madrid in all competitions. The England international, who had been nursing a shoulder injury, leads the Spanish league with 11 goals.
Rodrygo was set to start the match on the bench but made the starting 11 at the last minute after Brahim Diaz fell ill with stomach problems.
“Rodrygo made the difference in the game today,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
It was Rodrygo’s first game since he said last week that he was the target of racist abuse on social media following Brazil’s 1-0 loss to Argentina in South American World Cup qualifying.
The Brazil forward has scored five goals in his last three games with Madrid. He calmly dealt with defenders while scoring his goals on Sunday, first inside the area and then in a breakaway.
Also out for Ancelotti’s team because of injuries were Vinicius Junior and Eduardo Camavinga, who got hurt during the international break.
It was the second straight league win for Madrid, who are unbeaten in eight matches in the competition.
Cadiz looked threatening at times but couldn’t avoid seeing its winless streak in the league extend to nine matches, with six losses and three draws. It stayed in 16th place, two points from the relegation zone.
Defending champions Barcelona remained fourth after a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
RAMOS SENT OFF
Sevilla’s winless streak in the league reached seven matches after a 2-1 loss at Real Sociedad, when veteran defenders Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas were sent off late in the game.
Ramos was shown a straight red card after a dangerous sliding tackle, while Navas was sent off — also with a straight red — for complaining. Ramos was initially shown a yellow card but video review reversed the referee’s decision and he ended up being awarded the red.
Sociedad moved to fifth place with the home win. The Basque Country club took the lead with an own-goal by Sevilla goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic three minutes into the match and added to the lead with Umar Sadiq finding the net with a shot from outside the box in the 22nd.
Sevilla, who dropped to 15th, got on the board with a header by Youssef En-Nesyri in the 60th.
MORALES’ HAT TRICK
Villarreal ended a two-match losing streak in the league with a 3-1 win against Osasuna, with Jose Luis Morales scoring a second-half hat trick.
The win moved the team coached by Marcelino García Toral to 12th place. Osasuna, who scored late through Alejandro Catena, dropped to 14th. They have lost three of its last four matches.
Also Sunday, Real Betis beat Las Palmas 1-0 at home with a 19th-minute goal by striker Willian José. Betis stayed in seventh place, four spots ahead of Las Palmas.
Second-to-last Granada fired coach Paco Lopez on Sunday, two days after the team’s 3-1 loss at Alaves. The club from southern Spain is winless in 11 straight league games.