Football

Zidane hails 'special' Bale

Zinedine Zidane hailed Gareth Bale as a "special player", after the Wales forward marked his return from a three-month injury lay-off with a well-taken finish to seal Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Bale had been sidelined since the Champions League group match at Sporting Lisbon on Nov 22, after needing surgery on tendon damage in his ankle.

The 27-year-old, though, made an impact on his comeback when, having come on for the final 20 minutes, he raced onto a pass from Isco down the left and slotted the ball into the far corner.

A first-half header from Alvaro Morata had set Real, fielding a much-changed starting 11, on course for victory, which saw them move four points clear of Barcelona, who would have played two matches more after they hosted Leganes this morning (Singapore time).

NOT 100 PER CENT

Zidane said: "I am happy to have Bale back. He was eager to get back playing again. When he came on, I told him to go out and enjoy himself.

"He is a special player, he's different from the rest, but each player does his bit.

"It doesn't look like he's been out for three months.

"He's very powerful, he makes the difference and that's why he's special."

Bale was glad to finally be back in action, but expects it will be a "few weeks" before he is fully up to speed again.

"It will take me a few weeks to fully recover and be at 100 per cent," Bale told Real Madrid TV.

"It was difficult to be absent for so long, but the team were winning and that's the most important thing.

"We want to win both titles and I want to help." - PA SPORT


OTHER RESULTS

Deportivo Coruna 0 Alaves 1

Sevilla 2 Eibar 0

Sporting Gijon 1 Atletico Madrid 4

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