Bale boosts Champions League final chances with brace as Real hit Celta for six
Bale has now scored seven goals in nine games for Real.
Gareth Bale staked a claim for a Champions League final place with a first-half brace in Real Madrid’s 6-0 rout of Celta Vigo.
Bale made it seven goals in his last nine Real games – the second against Celta was a stunning individual effort – to boost his hopes of starting for the European champions against Liverpool in Kiev on May 26.
Isco, Achraf Hakimi and Toni Kroos were also on the scoresheet, while Sergi Gomez put through his own net as Real took the race for second spot into the final set of LaLiga fixtures.
Atletico Madrid had won 1-0 at Getafe earlier in the day and Real will go into their final game next weekend three points behind their city rivals, but with a vastly superior goal difference.
Celta showed some early promise, but Real’s attacking brilliance was simply too much for them and they capitulated in timid fashion.
Zinedine Zidane promised to make changes after Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to Sevilla and the Real manager was true to his word.
Zidane made eight changes with Keylor Navas, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Kroos, Isco and Bale among those to be recalled.
Real were bright from the start, with Hugo Mallo clearing Achraf’s effort, although Navas soon had to save smartly from Lucas Boye at the near post.
Bale put Real ahead after 13 minutes when he showed good pace to race on to Modric’s pass and beat goalkeeper Sergio with a firm shot, which went in off the near post.
Celta had brief hope when Maxi Gomez fired wide and Jozabed Sanchez’s effort deflected in off Daniel Wass, who was in an offside position.
There were also Celta claims for a penalty when Brais Mendez appeared to be clipped by Casemiro.
But Real were in complete command when Bale produced a moment of brilliance on the half-hour mark.
The Welshman chased Isco’s pass before flicking the ball one side of Jonny and running the other side to deliver an unstoppable shot past Sergio – his 15th league goal of an injury-hit season.
Two minutes later Isco curled in another beauty from the other side of the area, almost a carbon-copy finish of the one Bale had supplied.
Wass saw his point-blank header palmed out by Navas five minutes before the break, but that was almost Celta’s last resistance.
Seven minutes after the re-start the impressive full-back Achraf surged on to Karim Benzema’s pass and fired through the legs of the luckless Sergio.
Bale was twice denied a hat-trick by Sergio, but the ovation he received when substituted after 71 minutes must have delighted him after so much criticism this season.
Benzema had a close-range effort ruled out for offside, but Celta’s misery continued as Gomez deflected substitute Marco Asensio’s cross into his own net.
Kroos added a sixth nine minutes from time when he was left unmarked in the area.
Real might still fall short in the battle for second spot, but they look in good nick with Liverpool on the horizon.