Bale fires Real Madrid to opening win
Bale was the only member of the renowned ‘BBC’ forward line who was fit enough to play in Sunday’s game, as Zinedine Zidane’s team travelled to San Sebastian in the midst of an injury crisis, with five regular starters unable to make the squad.
As well as star forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Keylor Navas and Pepe were also ruled out, but it didn’t stop Madrid earning a convincing win at a notoriously tricky venue.
Bale was picked despite having appeared in just one friendly in pre-season, but the Welshman got Madrid off to a flying start, leaping into the air to powerfully nod home Dani Carvajal’s tempting cross in only the second minute.
Kiko Casilla had to be quick off his line at the other end after a short back-pass by Raphael Varane, hacking the ball to safety under pressure.
Alvaro Morata nearly scored his first goal since returning to Real Madrid but, after a clever dribble, his strike was deflected behind for a corner.
A Toni Kroos effort met the same fate, with goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli quick to get down to tip the German’s drilled strike behind.
Real Sociedad had a good opportunity to level on the half-hour mark, but former Madrid man Asier Illarramendi opted to pass to Juanmi instead of shooting when well placed and the ball didn’t reach his team-mate.
It was an end-to-end affair, with Morata denied again by Rulli, while youngster Asensio, picked ahead of James Rodriguez and Isco, continued to bewilder defenders with his quick feet on his first start in La Liga for the European champions.
The forward scored Madrid’s second goal in the 40th minute with an effortless lob after he was sent through on Rulli’s goal by Varane’s pass, scooping the ball over the stopper with ease.
Morata was seeing a lot of the ball in the second half but was foiled at every turn, being booked for diving in the area before his shot was saved and Kroos cracked the rebound against Rulli’s crossbar.
The goalkeeper was called into action to tip a Mateo Kovacic piledriver wide as Madrid continued to turn the screw, although despite their dominance they could not stretch their lead until Bale ran through, rounded Rulli and squeezed the ball home with the last kick of the game.
Atletico Madrid entertain promoted Alaves in the late game on Sunday, while Sporting Gijon earlier beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.
Champions Barcelona opened their campaign in style on Saturday by beating Betis 6-2 with Luis Suarez scoring a hat-trick and Lionel Messi netting twice.
Sevilla beat Espanyol 6-4 in an incredible game with Luciano Vietto scoring twice for the hosts and fellow summer signings Pablo Sarabia, Franco Vazquez, Wissam Ben Yedder and Hiroshi Kiyotake also on target.