Gareth Bale was surprisingly used in Real Madrid’s friendly with Arsenal — despite Zinedine Zidane’s revelation he would soon leave the club — and the Wales star almost delivered a perfect response to his critics.
Bale kickstarted Madrid’s comeback in their International Champions Cup friendly match in Washington D.C, scoring Madrid’s first goal while they were trailing 2-0 early in the second half.
But it wasn’t a complete fairytale for the Wales star, who had a terrible penalty saved in the shootout — although the Spanish giants still emerged victorious.
Bale came on as a substitute at half time, and wasted no time in getting among the action with his goal coming just nine minutes after taking the field.
The winger also cleared a goal-bound shot off the line in the 76th minute, proving his worth at both ends of the pitch.
Bale’s mixed performance came amid intense speculation surrounding Bale’s future over the past few days. However Zidane appeared to pour cold water on any suggestions it could force a rethink over his future, declaring “nothing has changed”.
“He has played a good game and I am happy for him. As for everyone,” Zidane said.
“He is with us and we will continue working … I don’t know what will happen. He wanted to play (today) and the other day (he didn;t).
“I haven’t talked to him. He has trained normally and that’s why he played.
“Nothing has changed, you know what the situation is like.”
Zidane has said that he hopes a move for the Welsh star “for everyone’s sake, that it happens soon.”
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett fired back at Zidane, telling ESPN that “Zidane is a disgrace to speak like that about someone who has done so much for Real.”
The Welshman looked lively throughout, taking on Arsenal’s backline at will, terrorising Calum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson.
Arsenal opened the scoring in the 10th minute with Alexandre Lacazette converting from the penalty spot after Nacho handled the ball in the area. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added the second in the 24th minute after some lovely link-up play with Lacazette sent him clean through on goal and finished with ease.
Madrid’s second goal came just three minutes after Bale’s goal, with Marcelo turning provider for Marco Asensio to sidefoot the ball into the net
Both sides had a man sent off, with Madrid’s Nacho given his marching orders in the ninth minute and Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the 40th.