Gareth Bale silenced his Spanish critics, scoring the goal of the game in Real Madrid’s win over Real Sociedad.
Bale waited an hour for a decent pass into space to run on to and when it finally came from Isco he nudged it forward powering past Real Sociedad left-back Kevin Rodrigues before clipping it over the dive of Geronimo Rulli to score.
No one combines blistering pace with composed finishing quite like Bale and it made it 3-1 and three points to Real Madrid, who go fourth in La Liga.
Bale loves a goal at Anoeta. He has scored six in five visits there. Madrid managing to score again was nothing new. They have now done so in each of their last 73 games – equaling a record set by Pele’s Santos in 1963.
Zinedine Zidane hailed Bale’s contribution. The Real Madrid coach said: ‘I think he runs 60 metres and he is two metres behind the defender when he starts his run.
‘It’s not just the run, he then has the cool head at the end to finish as he did. It’s not that he can only play on the counter attack. He can play when the team has the ball and there is not the space to run into. But yes when he has the space you could see tonight what he can do.’
They started well with Theo Hernandez controlling Luca Modric’s long crossfield ball and forcing his way to the line. When he pulled the ball back for Marco Asensio the Spain international failed to take advantage.
Everton target Willian Jose had the first chance for Real Sociedad but Keylor Navas made the save. He was not at his best moments later when Real Sociedad scored but only after Real Madrid had taken the lead.
When the ball was played into the area on 19 minutes it was Sergio Ramos who was furthest forward. With his back to goal he seemed to be juggling it in preparation for a bicycle kick but instead flipped it up for the onrushing Borja Mayoral who lashed it past Rulli on the volley.
The 20-year-old did not excel on loan at Wolfsburg last season but he was making the most of his first start back at Madrid.
Kevin Rodrigues equalized on 28 minutes and it was a goal brilliantly executed by the Real Sociedad left-back and set-up by the Real Sociedad right back Alvaro Odriozola who crossed from the right. The home side had enjoyed a long spell of possession in which both full-backs had got forward. The goal also owed much to Real Madrid keeper Navas who really should have saved Rodrigues’ shot.
Real Sociedad should have taken the lead when the full-backs repeated the trick. Odriozola crossed again from the right and this time Rodrigues’s shot hit the bar. Rodrigues was everywhere but soon he was in the wrong place at the wrong time to inadvertently give Real Madrid the lead.
Mayoral broke away and should have released Isco but held on to possession too long. The chance seemed to have gone but he skipped away from his marker and crossed. Rodrigues came sliding in to clear but put through his own net to make it 2-1.
Real Sociedad had former Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj in their starting line-up. He was booked for a late tackle on Ramos as Real Sociedad increased the pressure before the break.
Madrid retook control of the game in the second half and when Bale struck on the hour it put paid to any chance of a late Real Sociedad comeback. Dani Carvajal was lucky not to have a penaly given against him in the closing stages.
But Madrid deserved the points and Asensio netted a fourth only for the referee to harshly rule it out adjudging Bale to be interfering with play in an offside position.
This was a potential slip-up for Real Madrid against a Real Sociedad side who had not dropped a point yet this season but with Mayoral’s first-half show and Bale’s sprint finish they had made light work of it to close the gap on leaders Barcelona.