Gareth Bale again came to Real Madrid’s rescue by heading home the winner in a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad on Saturday that keeps their title hopes alive.
The Wales international, who had scored twice as Madrid came from two goals down to win 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano last weekend, again delivered when it mattered, nodding in Lucas Vazquez’s cross in the 80th minute.
It was Bale’s ninth headed goal in the league this season, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues and earned Madrid the points despite a frustrating afternoon against the side who beat Barcelona earlier this month.
It took Real temporarily to the top of La Liga on 84 points but Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, both two points behind, had the chance to retake the lead again after playing later on Saturday.
With top scorers Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema injured, it was again up to Bale to lead the line for Madrid, with coach Zinedine Zidane making five changes from the team that drew 0-0 at Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final first leg in midweek.
Bale missed two early chances to score, firing a James Rodriguez through ball wide and also missing the target from a header.
He also squandered his clearest chance of the game just before the hour mark, failing to beat Geronimo Rulli from close range after a loose ball dropped into his path.
Yet Bale compensated by breaking the deadlock with 10 minutes remaining, leaping at the near post to glance Vazquez’s cross into the top corner for his 19th goal of the campaign.
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