Bernabeu opens its arms to Beckham

Two goals in the week as Madrid falls under the golden one's spell
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The Independent Football

Never mind leaks to the newspapers, hints at revelations, fabricated controversy, or outpourings of indignation from those who think they have been slighted; there can be no better advertisement for a sportsman's autobiography than his dashing deeds on the field of play.

With or without his wife's promptings, David Beckham never seems to miss a trick, and he duly obliged right on cue yesterday. With the newspaper serialisation of his book due, the England captain guaranteed himself a place in the sporting headlines by scoring in only the third minute of his Spanish league debut for Real Madrid and helping them to a 2-1 victory over Real Betis.

Beckham had been overjoyed on Wednesday at scoring on his Bernabeu debut. Then, he had headed home a pass from Ronaldo as Real won the Spanish Super Cup by beating Real Mallorca 3-0 for a 4-2 victory on aggregate. But this was the real thing, a league game in which the points at stake were not merely the kind awarded by newspaper pundits assessing a player's performance.

Wednesday night's goal had been a nod-in, this one was a tap-in from Ronaldo's cross, but no matter, it was a small act in the Bernabeu ­ every bit as much a theatre as Old Trafford ­ but it had the photographers' flash bulbs bursting and motor drives whirring as he celebrated, the audience on their feet screaming in delight.

"It was nice to score again and nice to get the result," Beckham said. "When you've got players like the players here you are always going to get chances." And you are always going to have to endure comparison but Beckham certainly held his own yesterday. Having curled one free-kick just over the bar, he contented himself for the remainder of the first half with some tantalising crosses. He announced himself in the second with a cracking drive from 30 yards that rattled the cross-bar and caused the opposition enough unease in his role in right midfield to attract a number of heavy tackles. Beckham had the last laugh. He flighted a through ball to Zinedine Zidane, and the Frenchman's cross gave Ronaldo the chance to score the winner in a tough game.

But Beckham is used to dealing with tough situations, according to the extracts from his autobiography that are published in a newspaper today. In them England's captain confirms what was revealed in rumours and innuendo earlier this year, that there had been an irreconcilable breakdown of his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager at Manchester United.

The midfielder reveals how Ferguson blamed him for the Champions' League semi-final defeat by Real Madrid; accused him of disloyalty to United by visiting the Queen with the England World Cup squad while he was recovering from a broken rib; and insulted him in front of the United squad by ordering him to train with the reserves because he had missed a session to be with his son, Brooklyn, who was ill at the time.