Gareth Bale scores as Real Madrid hold off Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad 1 - 3 Real Madrid

Gareth Bale scores as Real Madrid hold off Real Sociedad

17/09/2017

Gareth Bale responded to his Real Madrid critics with a brilliant goal as Zinedine Zidane's youthful side ended Real Sociedad's 100 percent start with a 3-1 victory.

Welshman Bale was booed at times during Wednesday's home Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia after an indifferent spell, but Zidane had backed the 28-year-old to hit top form again following last year's injury.

He was largely anonymous against Sociedad but in the 61st minute, with his side winning 2-1, Bale's blistering speed allowed him to collect a long Isco ball over the top and he coolly chipped in his second goal of the season.

Earlier in the game Borja Mayoral, 20, had opened his Real Madrid account and then provided the cross for Kevin Rodrigues to turn into his own net after the La Real full-back had levelled at the other end.

There was no "Galactico" through the door at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, with the focus instead on young, homegrown talent and Theo Hernandez, Marco Asensio and Mayoral, all 21 or under, were key figures here for a Los Blancos side missing Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Marcelo and Toni Kroos.

Teenager Hernandez, making just his second start, got up and down the left flank often in the early stages and rolled the ball across to Asensio only for Rodrigues to make the block.

At the other end, the persistence of ex-Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj created an opportunity for Willian Jose, whose first-time effort was well struck but straight at Keylor Navas.

Real went ahead in the 19th minute when Mayoral registered his first senior goal for the club. Sergio Ramos had looked to tee himself up for an overhead kick yet Mayoral saw his opportunity and volleyed in as Real's captain was being pulled down by Diego Llorente.

The hosts were behind for only nine minutes as Rodrigues, who had a lively evening, equalised thanks to some poor keeping from Navas.

Alvaro Odriozola's dart down the right saw him swing a deep cross towards an unmarked Rodrigues and the left-back steered his volley back at goal, with Navas letting the attempt squirm under his body and into the net.

A delay followed so a cameraman positioned in front of the temporary stand at the other end could be taken off on a stretcher with his leg in a brace.

And it was Rodrigues who was at the heart of the game's next key moment shortly after it resumed. It had looked like he would double his account in similar fashion as he met another Odriozola cross with a strike fired into the ground that bounced up and hit the crossbar.

Real countered as the ball remained in play and Mayoral shrugged off Llorente to lead a two-on-two attack. It appeared as though he had hesitated too long but he sidestepped Aritz Elustondo before sending in a cross that Rodrigues, who had chased back the entire length of the pitch, could only divert between keeper Geronimo Rulli's legs.

Sociedad pushed for another leveller early in the second period, with Llorente heading a corner at Navas, and that allowed Real to hit them on the break.

Isco's pass from deep had Bale in mind and though he was some four yards behind Rodrigues when it was played, he displayed electrifying speed to break beyond him, take one touch and chip over the onrushing Rulli.

Asensio was denied a fourth by the offside flag, awarded against Bale as he blocked off Elustondo, as a Real side missing several of their recognised stars came away with the victory.

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