Gareth Bale

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

La Liga & Serie A: Bale leads Real to seven-goal outburst and more

Leave a comment

A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Madrid 7-1 Deportivo La Coruna

Now, this is more like it from the defending European champions. Zinedine Zidane’s side went behind on Sunday when Adrian put the visitors in front, however, Real Madrid woke up and scored seven unanswered goals at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale was the star on the day with a brilliant curler that kicked off the first of his two goals (below). After Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to go down inside the penalty area, Bale carried on and put the ball onto his left foot before sliding his shot in off the inside of the far post.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo picked up a brace of his own on the day, both of which came off of headers for the Portuguese international. The veteran goalscorer also got bloodied on the day, but that didn’t stop him from adding to his impressive goal total.

Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona

A slow start to the match was aided by a Barcelona team that came out for blood in the second stanza. Ivan Rakitic and braces from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi paced the road side in the second half, keeping their unbeaten La Liga record in tacked.

Although Rakitic was the first to find his name on the scoresheet, it was his assist to Suarez that later on that proved to be a thing of excellence from both parties.

The first half was mildly uneventful for the Blaugrana, however, the Catalonians suffered another injury blow as Thomas Vermaelen left the match after pulling up in the first half with what appeared to be a hamstring pull.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 2-2 Leganes
Real Sociedad 1-2 Celta Vigo

Lazio 5-1 Chievo Verona

Lazio moved into third place in Serie A after a convincing victory at the Stadio Olimpico. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s double for the hosts helped propel them to the win, after Luis Alberto kicked off the scoring in the 23rd minute.

Chievo found a brief response two minutes later, but from there it was all Lazio as they closed to within 11 points of league leaders Napoli.

Cagliari 1-2 AC Milan

Franck Kessié scored twice in six minutes to pull Milan back into the match on the day, and that was exactly what they needed to secure three points at the Sardegna Arena. AC Milan sits seventh in Italy’s top flight through 21 matches, 23 points behind Napoli.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Inter Milan 1-1 Roma
Udinese 1-1 SPAL
Sassuolo 1-1 Torino
Sampdoria 3-1 Fiorentina
Bologna 3-0 Benevento
Hellas Verona 0-3 Crotone
Atalanta 0-1 Napoli

Madrid rallies to beat Al Jazira, reach Club World Cup final (video)

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Leave a comment

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Gareth Bale scored an 81st-minute winner as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Emirates club Al Jazira 2-1 on Wednesday and reach the Club World Cup final.

Madrid will try to win its third world title in four seasons when its faces South American champion Gremio on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League Weds. roundup ]

The match had two goals disallowed by video review, one for each team.

Madrid struggled early and allowed the local league winners to open the scoring with a goal by Brazilian forward Romarinho just before halftime.

But Cristiano Ronaldo equalized early in the second half and Bale netted the winner less than a minute after entering the match as a substitute for Karim Benzema.

Real Madrid come from behind to win in Club World Cup semis

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Leave a comment

Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: West Ham targeting Wilshere in January transfer window ]

The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.

The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.

Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.

Gareth Bale’s hardships continue at Real Madrid

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Gareth Bale‘s highly anticipated return didn’t last long.

The Real Madrid forward impressed in the few minutes he played in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday after a long injury layoff, but he remains far from fit and is likely to be sidelined again for the team’s Spanish league game on Saturday.

Bale played for about 30 minutes in the 2-2 draw against third-division club Fuenlabrada, making his return to action after more than two months nursing lingering muscle injuries. He played well and set up both goals for Madrid, which advanced to the last 16 with a 4-2 aggregate victory.

“We were all happy for him,” Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez said. “He played a good match.”

Bale’s performance raised hopes of a return to the starting lineup, reuniting the “BBC” trio along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. The trio hasn’t played together since last season.

But Bale did not practice with the rest of the squad on Wednesday and Thursday, and it is unlikely that Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane will let him play on Saturday at Athletic Bilbao.

Zidane has said that he is anxious to see the BBC playing together again, and that he felt Bale was ready to start again, but the coach was being careful not to risk a more serious injury.

The 28-year-old Wales forward endured a series of muscle problems this season. He played only 10 matches with Madrid and missed the final World Cup qualifiers with his national team, which was failed to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia.

Bale’s last match before his second-half appearance against Fuenlabrada had been in September against Borussia Dortmund in the group stage of the Champions League.

With his participation in Tuesday’s game, Bale became the British player with the most appearances for Madrid, overcoming the 159 matches played by David Beckham.

While Bale won’t likely play on Saturday, Ronaldo is set to return to the lineup after being among the regular starters rested against Fuenlabrada.

Ronaldo has a good scoring record against Athletic, with 16 goals in 16 matches. His last goals against Athletic came in a 4-2 league win at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in 2016.

Defending champion Madrid is in fourth place, eight points behind Barcelona and four behind second-place Valencia. Barcelona hosts Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Valencia plays at Getafe on Sunday.

Bale set to return to Madrid’s squad after injury layoff

Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Gareth Bale is expected to make his return to Real Madrid’s lineup in a Copa del Rey match this week after being sidelined for more than two months because of injuries.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says the Wales forward has recovered from a left leg muscle injury and will play at least part of Tuesday’s match against Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

[ MORE: Lukaku dodges ban ]

Madrid won the first leg 2-0 against the third-division club.

Bale hasn’t played since Madrid’s 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Sept. 26. Plagued by injuries this season, his latest ailment came in practice while trying to recover from another muscle injury.