One goal, one assist: Former Spurs star shines for Madrid in Ronaldo’s absence

Gareth Bale looked at home during Real Madrid’s exciting 4-2 victory over Villarreal.

Many questions were raised after Real Madrid spent a reported world record £85.3m on former Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale in arguably the longest transfer saga in history.

Yet, the 24-year-old hasn’t been fazed and despite being hampered by injuries, Bale has enjoyed a decent debut season in Madrid so far.

The Welsh international has started a total of 12 La Liga games so far for Los Blancos, scoring a very respectable nine goals and assisting a further eight – a record which is comfortably better than fellow attacking midfielders Angel Di Maria and Isco.

However, Bale’s biggest test was this weekend’s fixture at home to a very good Villarreal side.

Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s red card away at Athletic Bilbao, the Ballon d’Or winner was handed a three game suspension – resulting in Gareth Bale taking centre stage in front of arguably the most demanding football fans in the world.

Gareth Bale must have felt slightly anxious, yet any pre-match nerves were quickly diminished as he found the net within seven minutes – taking advantage of a defensive mistake before coolly lifting the ball over on-rushing goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

Twenty minutes later, another Bale contribution all but sealed the game for the hosts before the half-hour mark. The Welshman picked up the ball on the right hand side of the box, effortlessly hit the by-line before crossing for Karim Benzema to gleefully prod in at the near post.

Despite Villarreal scoring just before half-time and another former Spurs man Giovani Dos Santos adding a glorious free-kick in the second half, the points were never in danger of slipping through Real Madrid’s grasps as Los Blancos continued their superb form.

During the 90 minutes, Bale produced four shots and two key passes – more than any other player on the pitch. It was a performance worthy of the MOTM award, and one which went some way to justifying his huge transfer fee.

Cristiano who?

image: © James Boyes

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