Bale leads Madrid to open­ing vic­tory

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

AGARETH Bale brace and a Marco Asen­sio lob helped Real Madrid make light work of Real So­ciedad, run­ning out 3-0 win­ners at Anoeta in their open­ing game of the sea­son in La Liga.

Back from his post-Euro 2016 hol­i­days, Bale was the only mem­ber of the renowned “BBC” for­ward line who was fit enough to play in the Au­gust 21 game, as Zine­dine Zi­dane’s team trav­elled to San Se­bas­tian in the midst of an in­jury cri­sis, with five reg­u­lar starters un­able to make the squad.

As well as star for­wards Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Karim Ben­zema, Luka Mo­dric, Key­lor Navas and Pepe were also ruled out, but it didn’t stop Madrid earn­ing a con­vinc­ing win at a no­to­ri­ously tricky venue, thanks to Bale’s two goals.

“I’m happy for him,” said Zi­dane. “Phys­i­cally he’s be­hind the oth­ers and you couldn’t tell. He started in the best way, with an early goal. He’s al­ready said it’s an im­por­tant year for him, and he’s show­ing that.”

Bale was picked de­spite hav­ing ap­peared in just one friendly in pre­sea­son, but the Welsh­man got Madrid off to a fly­ing start, leap­ing into the air to pow­er­fully nod home Dani Car­va­jal’s tempt­ing cross in only the sec­ond minute.

Al­varo Mo­rata nearly scored his first goal since re­turn­ing to Real Madrid but, af­ter a clever drib­ble, his strike was de­flected be­hind for a cor­ner.

A Toni Kroos effort met the same fate, with goal­keeper Geron­imo Rulli quick to get down to tip the Ger­man’s drilled strike be­hind.

Real So­ciedad had a good op­por­tu­nity to level on the half-hour mark, but for­mer Madrid man Asier Il­lar­ra­mendi opted to pass to Juanmi in­stead of shoot­ing when well placed and the ball didn’t reach his team­mate.

It was an end-to-end af­fair, with Mo­rata de­nied again by Rulli, while young­ster Asen­sio, picked ahead of James Ro­driguez and Isco, con­tin­ued to be­wil­der de­fend­ers with his quick feet on his first start in La Liga for the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons.

The for­ward scored Madrid’s sec­ond goal in the 40th minute with an ef­fort­less lob af­ter he was sent through on Rulli’s goal by Raphael Varane’s pass, scoop­ing the ball over the goal­keeper with ease.

Zi­dane ac­knowl­edged the 20-yearold’s fine form was giv­ing him se­lec­tion prob­lems.

“I had to de­cide and he went out from the start and did well. It’s a headache pick­ing the line-up. Asen­sio had a great game, but so did [Ma­teo] Ko­vacic and oth­ers. The im­por­tant thing is the team,” Zi­dane said.

Mo­rata was see­ing a lot of the ball in the sec­ond half but was foiled at ev­ery turn, be­ing booked for div­ing in the area be­fore his shot was saved and Kroos cracked the re­bound against Rulli’s cross­bar.

The goal­keeper was called into ac­tion to tip a Ma­teo Ko­vacic piledriver wide as Madrid con­tin­ued to turn the screw, although de­spite their dom­i­nance they could not stretch their lead un­til Bale ran through, rounded Rulli and squeezed the ball home with the last kick of the game.

Atletico held Home coach Euse­bio Sacristan blamed him­self for the heavy home de­feat.

“The per­son most re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pened is me and if we are ca­pa­ble of fac­ing up to Real Madrid, that is my re­spon­si­bil­ity,” he ex­plained.

“The play­ers are ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted, but it’s clear we have to work hard to im­prove and cor­rect our er­rors as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Atletico Madrid had to set­tle for a 1-1 draw at home to Alaves af­ter a crazy fin­ish to their game at the Vi­cente Calderon.

Diego Sime­one’s side won a de­bat­able penalty three min­utes into stop­page time when Vic­tor La­guardia was ad­judged to have fouled Fer­nando Torres and sum­mer sign­ing Kevin Gameiro net­ted from the spot.

But there was still time for Manu Gar­cia to equalise for the newly pro­moted vis­i­tors with their first shot on tar­get of the evening.

Ear­lier, Sport­ing Gi­jon beat Ath­letic Bil­bao 2-1, while cham­pi­ons Barcelona opened their cam­paign in style on Satur­day by beat­ing Betis 6-2 with Luis Suarez scor­ing a hat-trick and Lionel Messi net­ting twice.

Also last week­end, Sevilla beat Es­panyol 6-4 in an in­cred­i­ble game.

Photo: EPA

Gareth Bale (right) nets his sec­ond goal to se­cure Real Madrid a win in their first game of the sea­son.

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