Bellingham strikes again as Madrid thrash Villarreal
La Liga sensation Jude Bellingham struck again as Real Madrid cruised to a 4-1 win over Villarreal on Sunday to move top of the table.
Carlo Ancelotti's side are a point ahead of Catalan minnows Girona, who host Alaves on Monday and will be looking to reclaim pole position.
Spain's top scorer Bellingham broke the deadlock for Madrid with his 13th league goal before Rodrygo Goes doubled their lead.
Villarreal pulled one back through Jose Luis Morales, but Brahim Diaz scored a superb solo goal to restore Madrid's advantage.
Luka Modric drove home the fourth as Madrid fans celebrated a sizeable victory in their final home match of the year.
"It's the kind of move I usually try, today it went in, so I'm very happy," Diaz told Real Madrid TV.
"(I'm happy) for the team's work, we did a great job today and I'm happy for the goal and for the win."
Diaz is striking up a fruitful relationship with Bellingham and Rodrygo in attack.
"We understand each other well, we all get along because it's an incredible group, we are very united and you see that on the pitch," he added.
The only negative news for Ancelotti came in the form of an injury to defender David Alaba, who he replaced in the first half.
The Italian coach put his faith in England international Bellingham to take an attacking role this season for Madrid and it is paying off in virtually every match.
The 20-year-old netted his 17th goal across all competitions in his 20th match this season to get the party started after Madrid saw rivals Barcelona, third, held at Valencia on Saturday.
Madrid, playing at the renovated Santiago Bernabeu with the new roof closed for just the second time, made the early running against Villarreal.
They got their reward midway through the first half when Bellingham leaped high to nod home Modric's delicious clipped cross.
Spate of injuries
Alaba went off with an apparent knee injury sustained as he challenged Gerard Moreno, who later went off hurt himself along with teammate Alex Baena and Madrid's Ferland Mendy.
With Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao, Eduardo Camavinga and others out already, Ancelotti's pack is worryingly thin.
However, they did not let it show on Sunday, with Rodrygo doubling the lead from close range after the ball bounced to him in the box.
It was the Brazilian's eighth goal in his last eight games for Real Madrid, continuing his own superb goalscoring form of late after a slow start to the campaign.
Early in the second half, Villarreal pulled one back, with Morales finishing past Andriy Lunin, selected over Kepa Arrizabalaga.
But Diaz whisked the visitors' hope away when he turned brilliantly away from Aissa Mandi in midfield, drove forward, swerved Jorge Cuenca and finished with ease.
After Modric added the fourth, Madrid fans brought out the 'ole' chants as their team passed the ball around an increasingly frustrated Villarreal.
Madrid now have 38 goals in La Liga, equalling Girona's total as the top scorers to date.
Midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni made his return from injury as a substitute in the final stages to round off a largely satisfying night for Los Blancos, who open up a seven-point lead on third-place Barcelona.
"It's always good to build an advantage on Barca but there's a long way to go in the league and we have to continue with this mentality," said Rodrygo.
Marcelino's Villarreal languish 14th, three points above the relegation zone.