Real’s Shoot-Out Success Showed Winning Mentality: Bellingham

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BY AFP

Jude Bellingham saluted Real Madrid’s winning “mentality” after the Spanish side held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out to end Manchester City’s reign as Champions League holders on Wednesday.

Bellingham scored one of Real’s penalties in the 4-3 shoot-out victory following a 1-1 draw in a drama-filled quarter-final second leg.

City’s Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic missed their penalties before former Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger blasted Real’s winner from the spot at the Etihad Stadium.

After taking the lead through Rodrygo’s early goal, Real were forced into extra-time by Kevin De Bruyne’s late equaliser.

De Bruyne wasted a golden opportunity to win it for City as Carlo Ancelotti’s men held on despite spending long periods on the ropes.

Real midfielder Bellingham credited Ancelotti for infusing the team with the belief and character to cope with high pressure moments.

“Our biggest strength is he finds a way to let a lot of boys play with freedom. We’re so off the cuff. As a man he fills you with calmness and confidence. I caught him yawning and he said to go out and excite him,” Bellingham said.

“You have to see it as a responsibility not a pressure if you want to play for a team like Real Madrid. Today it came down to mentality.”

Bellingham admitted City were formidable opposition for the 14-time European champions, who had been held to a 3-3 draw by Pep Guardiola’s team in the first leg.

It was a sweet moment of revenge for Madrid after their lost against City in last season’s semi-finals.

 ‘Dead on my feet’ 

“It’s belief. You put so much into the game. I’ve played against City before and they snatch it away from you. I was pretty much dead on my feet at the end,” Bellingham said.

“It’s so difficult. They are continuously probing with the ball and move you around. Most teams would fall apart when City get on top of you but we stood up really well.”

Bellingham had extra reason to celebrate the memorable result as the England star was able to play in front of his brother Jobe for the first time since joining Real from Borussia Dortmund in 2023.

The 20-year-old hugged his younger brother, who plays for Championship side Sunderland, in the stands after the shoot-out.

“It’s beautiful. My brother is here today, the first time he’s seen me play for Madrid,” Bellingham said.

Ruben Dias admitted it was agonising to see City’s bid for a remarkable second successive treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup come to an end.

The Premier League leaders face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

“I don’t know what to say, it’s just frustrating. We dominated the game, the whole game. Until the penalties, the effort was there. We had our chances but it’s obviously difficult to take,” City defender Dias said.

“You always do everything to try and avoid going to penalties, that’s what they wanted, but it’s difficult to take.

“We won’t have much time to rest, it’s a busy part of the season, but now it is important to be strong, especially in the head, we are still fighting for two very important competitions.”

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