Gareth Bale marked his return to action after a long injury layoff by sealing a 2-0 victory for Real Madrid over RCD Espanyol on Saturday to provisionally stretch Zinedine Zidane’s side’s lead at the top of La Liga to three points.
Alvaro Morata headed home a floated cross from Isco to put Real ahead after 33 minutes against a stubborn Espanyol side and Bale steered another pass from the Spain midfielder in off the post in the 83rd minute shortly after coming off the bench.
Bale, making his first appearance since damaging ankle ligaments in November last year, netted his eighth goal of the season. Real also set a club record of scoring in 42 consecutive games in all competitions.
“I’m delighted that Gareth is back and especially for him, he was so keen to return and feel like a player again after almost three months away from the pitch,” Zidane told reporters.
Real top the standings on 52 points, three clear of Sevilla, who beat Sociedad Deportiva Eibar 2-0 at home thanks to goals from Pablo Sarabia and Vitolo in either half.
Sevilla kept the pressure on Real with the help of an inspired performance from Stevan Jovetic, a loan signing from Inter last month, who laid on the passes for both of the goals.
The Montenegrin forward conjured up a classy piece of skill in the Eibar area before serving a cross for Sarabia to volley home from close range in the 30th minute and then pulled the ball back for Vitolo to make sure of the win in injury time.
Earlier on Saturday, Kevin Gameiro came off the bench to score a hat-trick in the space of five minutes to fire Atletico Madrid to a 4-1 win over struggling Real Sporting de Gijon that kept them fourth in the standings on 45 points.
Yannick Carrasco had given Atletico the lead 12 seconds into the second half, but Sergio Alvarez gave the home side a deserved equalizer in the 49th minute.
However, for the second week in a row Atletico dug deep to rescue the points from an unconvincing display.
Antoine Griezmann had a goal harshly ruled out for offside, but laid on the pass for Gameiro’s first strike, the former Sevilla player calmly rounding Ivan Cuellar to put Atletico ahead in the 80th minute.
Gameiro ruthlessly killed off Sporting with two quick-fire strikes, latching on to a pass from Thomas Partey to score in the 81st minute and taking advantage of another through ball from Griezmann to complete his treble.
The Frenchman is the first Atletico player to score a hat-trick in the league as a substitute, while his treble was the second-fastest in the history of La Liga, behind only Bebeto’s for Deportivo La Coruna against Albacete in 1995.
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very
Taiwan Steel on Sunday took sole possession of the top of the Taiwan Football Premier League standings for the first time this season after a 9-2 thrashing of Taipower in a title showdown in which man-of-the-match Marc Fenelus scored four goals and provided two assists. In a match billed as the season’s key battle between the league’s two leading teams, both on 36 points, Taipower’s players wilted under the pressure and got blown away by an outstanding display from Taiwan Steel, who cruised to their ninth consecutive victory. Taiwan Steel opened the scoring within five minutes in the rain in Taoyuan when