Gareth Bale came off the bench to a chorus of whistles and boos from the Santiago Bernabeu crowd but helped Real Madrid seal a 3-1 La Liga win over Real Sociedad on Saturday night.
The Welshman sparked controversy in midweek while on international duty but was thoroughly professional as he played a hand in Madrid’s third goal of the night when his cross found Karim Benzema who set up Luka Modric for the finish.
Earlier, a grotesque error from Sergio Ramos was pounced on by Willian Jose inside the opening two minutes. He latched on to the home team skipper’s ill-advised back-pass before rounding Thibaut Courtois and steering the ball into an empty net.
A sublime delivery from a Modric free-kick was met by a improvised finish from Benzema to restore parity in the 37th minute.
Early in the second half, Federico Valverde’s deflected shot from outside the box after Modric’s lay-off handed Madrid the lead before the Croatian then finished off the third goal after some good work from Bale and Benzema.
Here, we rate Madrid’s players.
STARTING XI (4-3-3)
Courtois 6 – Was dealt a poor hand by Ramos for Sociedad’s goal. Made a couple of decent saves later on.
Carvajal 5 – Could’ve been stronger at times but grew into the game and looked more solid.
Varane 7 – Excellent on the ball and never really put a foot wrong at the back.
Ramos 4 – Horrendous error to begin with and misplaced a few more passes after that. Picked up a booking too.
Mendy 6 – Showed great drive and ambition down the left. Good in possession as well and showed good physicality.
Modric 9 – Created chance after chance and ended up with two assists. Took his goal superbly, doing well to keep it under control.
Casemiro 7 – Good defensive showing from the Brazilian and was an asset in the air but was sloppy with his passing at times.
Valverde 8 – Complimented Casemiro nicely in the double-pivot. Showed good positioning and bagged a slightly fortuitous goal.
Rodrygo 5 – Failed to trouble the Sociedad defence and was the obvious choice to be substituted.
Benzema 8 – Leading the line with aplomb at the moment. Improvised well to score his 10th La Liga goal this season and had a few more efforts.
Hazard 7 – Starting to look more like himself with a whopping nine dribbles in the game. Had a couple of good efforts on target as well.
Bale (67′) 7 – Silenced a few of the boo-boys with a strong cameo and played a big part in the third goal.
Kroos (76′) N/A – Kept the ball well when he came on and may have done better with an effort from just outside the box.
Isco (83′) N/A – Didn’t have much time to make an impact.
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