Bale back in Zidane's good books

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates one of his goals against Villarreal with Sergio Ramos. He scored both Real's goals in a 2-2 draw before getting his marching orders. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates one of his goals against Villarreal with Sergio Ramos. He scored both Real's goals in a 2-2 draw before getting his marching orders. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID • Gareth Bale twice came to Real Madrid's rescue to salvage a 2-2 draw at Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday but the Wales forward ended the night in despair after two yellow cards in as many minutes then saw him dramatically sent off in the 94th minute.

Real were severely weakened by six injuries to attacking players and fell behind in the 12th minute when captain Sergio Ramos lost the ball in his own half and Villarreal broke quickly, with Gerard Moreno scoring on the rebound.

Bale equalised in first-half stoppage time by tapping in a cross from Dani Carvajal from close range but Villarreal restored their lead in the 74th minute through Moi Gomez, after Karim Benzema had a goal ruled out for offside.

Bale again pulled Madrid out of trouble with a powerful low strike in the 86th minute before he was dismissed in stoppage time.

Real have five points from their opening three games, one more than champions Barcelona, but Zinedine Zidane's side are four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Eibar 3-2 on Sunday to maintain their perfect start.

New boys Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy started, with Bale in left midfield in a 4-4-2, a sign of his coach's renewed faith in the 30-year-old's defensive capabilities.

"I am pleased with his goals, of course, and now we have to think about a rest," Zidane said of Bale.

"Although he won't rest as he's going away with his national team."

The Frenchman has won only six of 14 matches since he returned as coach in March. He was critical of his team's defending: "We began without any intensity, we were barely in the game for the first 15 minutes, it's always important to make a strong start.

"But we reacted well and we deserved to score more. We were up against a good opponent and we have to improve in defence because we know what we are capable of in attack.

"But I'm focusing on the positive things we did today, above all our reaction, because it was very important we didn't lose today."

In other key matches, Dani Parejo converted two penalties to give Valencia their first win this term, 2-0 over promoted Mallorca.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2019, with the headline 'Bale back in Zidane's good books'. Print Edition | Subscribe