'Championship player' Bellingham shakes Champions League and earns Pep's praise

By Ben Spratt 15 April 2021 200
'Championship player' Bellingham shakes Champions League and earns Pep's praise

Jude Bellingham had a tongue-in-cheek comment for his doubters after another dazzling Champions League display earned the Borussia Dortmund midfielder plaudits from Pep Guardiola and Edin Terzic.

Bellingham was part of the BVB team beaten 2-1 by Manchester City on Wednesday to exit the quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.

But the England international was the game's outstanding player for 45 minutes in which he scored his first Champions League goal.

Denied a breakthrough strike in contentious circumstances in the first leg, Bellingham coolly picked out the top-right corner after 15 minutes at Signal Iduna Park.

The 17-year-old became the second-youngest scorer in a Champions League knockout tie, older only than Bojan for Barcelona in 2008.

It ultimately counted for little, with Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden scoring to send City through, but Bellingham certainly felt he had proved a point less than a year on from his big move from Championship side Birmingham City.

"Not bad for a Championship player," he told beIN Sports. "I think I've taken every game in my stride.

"I had a tough start away at Lazio and then, since then, I think all of my best performances in BVB colours have come in the Champions League - including tonight.

"For me, it's brilliant to play in this competition and play for this club. It's a huge honour. I can take a little bit away from it and learn from that, but I'm still gutted."

Bellingham was making his 10th Champions League appearance; only Youri Tielemans, in 2014, had previously reached that mark before the age of 18.

And opposition manager Guardiola was taken aback by the maturity of the teenager's performance.

"I cannot believe it," Guardiola said. "Maybe he's a liar. He's so good for 17 years old.

"I saw him when he didn't get the ball from his central defender and he was shouting at them, demanding the ball to be played into him. At 17, this means a lot."

As well as scoring from his only shot, just four days on from his first Bundesliga goal, Bellingham contested a team-high 11 duels, winning two fouls and conceding two.

An all-action performance also included two tackles, two clearances and two blocks - one of which sensationally denied Mahrez in the first half.

"The only thing we don't know about Jude is his limit," Dortmund coach Terzic said. "He has so much potential and talent.

"He is a great boy who wants to improve. We need to find out what is his limit and try to push him towards this limit.

"Tonight the whole world saw what he is capable of. We see it every day on the training ground. We are very happy he can perform like this. We need him to perform like this.

"This performance can help the team achieve all the targets. It doesn't mean he has to stop now.

"We have to keep going and stay focused like this and then we are going to find his limits."

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