Football

Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale will stay at Real Madrid

Real coach says it is a positive decision after Welsh forward stars in 3-1 win over Celta

Zinedine Zidane said Gareth Bale will remain at Real Madrid this season after the forward produced an inspiring performance in a 3-1 win at Celta Vigo on Saturday following a summer of uncertainty.

With a superb change of pace down the left flank, the Welshman, 30, created Real's opening goal for Karim Benzema.

He remained a constant threat to Celta and also contributed to Real's defensive work.

Toni Kroos later stretched the visitors' lead with a superb strike after Luka Modric had been sent off for Real, while Lucas Vazquez added a third.

Bale was not expected to stay in the Spanish capital this season after a tense stand-off with Zidane during pre-season, with the coach openly stating Bale was set to leave.

Bale missed parts of their pre-season tour and was reported to be on the verge of signing for Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last month.

The move was then called off and his chances of holding down a place in the team increased after fellow forward Marco Asensio suffered a knee injury.

His chances of playing against Celta received a further boost last Friday, when new arrival Eden Hazard was ruled out for three weeks after picking up a muscle problem.

However, Zidane said he had always intended to pick Bale against Celta and added the forward would not leave the club any time soon.

"He's going to stay and we all have to think of that as a positive thing," Zidane said.

"We have to focus on this season and nothing else. The injury to Hazard was bad luck for us, but it didn't change the plans we had for Bale in this game.

PRAISE

"Gareth and everyone else here are going to show this shirt the respect it deserves."

Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois also praised Bale's performance and credited his side for making such a strong start to the campaign after a worrying run of results in pre-season.

"We weren't surprised at all when Bale was named in the team because the boss counts on every single player and then decides the starting 11," he said.

"Gareth played an outstanding game. We worked hard in pre-season but results didn't go our way for different reasons. However, the season starts with the first game, not before.

"We played very well in the first half then, in the second, we fought hard together with a man down."

In a later game, Valencia were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Sociedad, who equalised with an injury-time penalty by Mikel Oyarzabal. Kevin Gameiro had given Valencia the lead in the 58th minute. - REUTERS

OTHER RESULTS

Mallorca 2 Eibar 1, Leganes 0 Osasuna 1, Villarreal 4 Granada 4, Athletic Bilbao 1 Barcelona 0

Football