Gareth will not Bale out on spot in final

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scoring his side's first of six goals without reply against Celta Vigo in the LaLiga on Saturday. His double and six goals in his last five LaLiga starts have given him a strong case to be included in the May 26 Champions Le
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scoring his side's first of six goals without reply against Celta Vigo in the LaLiga on Saturday. His double and six goals in his last five LaLiga starts have given him a strong case to be included in the May 26 Champions League final starting line-up against Liverpool.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID • Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale made a convincing case to be considered for a starting berth in the Champions League final against Liverpool with two goals in his side's 6-0 hammering of Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Bale put the burners on to race on to a through ball from Luka Modric and fire his side into the lead with a thumping low finish.

He then knocked the ball through the legs of Celta's Jonny Castro on the right wing and, with his next touch, lashed the ball into the roof of the net to the delight of the Santiago Bernabeu faithful, who gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 72nd minute of the LaLiga game.

"He played very well today and I'm very happy for him, but the important thing is that everyone is in great form heading to the final," Real coach Zinedine Zidane said.

The Frenchman has left Bale in the margins for most of Real's run to a third consecutive Champions League final, starting him in only one of their six knockout games this season.

But with six goals and an assist in his last five LaLiga starts, including the equaliser in last week's 2-2 draw at Barcelona, the Welshman has made a late bid for a return to the starting line-up in the May 26 final in Kiev.

"Of course now deciding a starting 11 for the final is going to give me a real headache," added Zidane.

Real's top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was rested against Celta to continue his recovery from a sprained ankle although there is no danger of him missing the final against Liverpool.

Bale's biggest competitors for a place in the starting line-up against Jurgen Klopp's side are midfielder Isco, who also scored in the win over Celta, and Spanish wingers Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.

Despite the rout, Real will finish third in LaLiga after Atletico Madrid clinched second spot behind champions Barcelona with a 1-0 win at Getafe on Saturday.

Atletico have 78 points, three ahead of Real with one game left and Atletico's superior head-to-head record means they finish above their neighbours for the first time since winning the title in 2014.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone fielded a full-strength team against Getafe despite the Europa League final against Marseille to come on Wednesday.

"We wanted to respect LaLiga as we always do, we don't know how to compete in any other way," said Simeone after watching Koke score the winner and goalkeeper Jan Oblak saving a penalty. 

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Gareth will not Bale out on spot in final'. Print Edition | Subscribe