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Bale on target for Real Madrid

The Wales international scored the opening goal against Leganes.

Gareth Bale sent a timely reminder to Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane by firing home the opening goal as his side overcame Leganes 2-1 at the Bernabeu.

Zidane opted to rest a number of big names including Cristiano Ronaldo with this week’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich in mind, and the Welshman made the most of his opportunity.

Bale scored an acrobatic opener after just four minutes and Borja Mayoral added a second on the stroke of half-time before Leganes reduced the deficit through Darko Brasanac.

For all of the fine start provided by Bale, who bicycle-kicked the opener after Karim Benzema’s initial effort had deflected into his path, Real were made to work overtime for their three points.

Leganes were attacking with purpose and striker Guerrero almost equalised just before the half-hour mark when he met a free-kick in front of goal but fired just wide of keeper Kiko Casilla.

Three minutes later the same player came even closer when Joseba Zaldua crossed low from the right and Guerrero completely mis-kicked as he attempted to back-heel the ball into the net.

The hugely impressive Nordin Amrabat flicked the top of the crossbar with a long-range effort in the 37th minute but Levante’s efforts were in vain as Real extended their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Leganes keeper Pichu Cuellar made a mess of collecting a cross following a short corner and Mayoral was lurking at the far post to tap home into an unguarded net.

The story of the second half was much the same with Leganes pressing forward with purpose without finding the final ball to unduly trouble Casilla.

Bale blasted a free-kick opportunity into the wall and with game seemingly won, Zidane opted to withdraw the impressive Benzema on the hour mark.

But six minutes later Leganes finally gained the breakthrough their play deserved when Amrabat flung in a cross which Brasanac converted from close range to give his side hope.

Leganes continued to push for an equaliser with Casillas saving well from Unai Bustinza, and Claudio Beauvue almost catching the keeper out with an audacious long-range effort.

Referee Ignacio Iglesias controversially blew for full-time as Leganes were mounting another attack, prompting a protest from Leganes midfielder Gabriel, who was duly sent off after the final whistle.

Press Association

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