Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bale bags hat-trick as Real Madrid close gap at the summit

1:04 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi No comments
La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – Real Madrid (Bale 33, 63, 89 Benzema 36) Valladolid 0.


Gareth Bale hit a hat-trick in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence as Real Madrid closed the gap on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga with a commanding 4-0 win over Real Valladolid.

Angel di Maria’s dipping half-volley crashed against the underside of the bar early on before Sergio Ramos squandered a host of chances, inexplicably heading off target when well placed on three occasions.

But their profligacy was of little matter as Madrid grabbed a deserved lead through Bale who nodded past Diego Marino before the Welshman turned provider as his whipped cross was headed home byKarim Benzema.

Bale slotted in his second after Marcelo’s cross was diverted into his path before sweeping home his first Madrid hat-trick from close range late on to wrap up a comfortable victory.

The win moved Madrid three points off pacesetters Barcelona who travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Madrid came into the match in the knowledge that victory would half the deficit at the top of La Liga and set about unsettling their opponents, pressuring them into mistakes and creating a flurry of early openings.

First Di Maria lashed against the underside of the bar after Valladolid had initially clearly a dangerous free-kick before Ramos somehow headed over from a corner with the goal agape.

The Spanish defender then spurned another opening following good link-up between Isco and Xabi Alonso down the left as Madrid began to open up their opponents at will.

Benzema was next to go close as his effort flashed wide before Ramos headed wide again, but Madrid finally made the breakthrough when Marcelo’s powerful effort from a tight angle was palmed by Marino into the path of Bale who headed in the opener.

And it was two moments later. Bale’s whipped cross from the right invited Benzema to rise highest in the opposition penalty area and double Madrid’s lead.

Valladolid were more adventurous after the restart but, despite short spells of possession, struggled to carve out any clear openings with Zakarya Bergdich blowing their best chance when he slipped inside the area.

Benzema had a strike chalked off for offside on the hour mark but Madrid did not have to wait long for their third as Marcelo’s cross squirmed off an outstretched Valladolid leg into the path of Bale who passed into the bottom corner.

It looked as though Bale had blown his chance of walking away with the match ball when he blazed over with the clock ticking down but he seized his next chance and turned home Marcelo's cut-back to notch his first Madrid hat-trick.

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