Bale: I need a few weeks to be at 100%

Bale: I need a few weeks to be at 100%

After making a triumphant goalscoring return to action, Gareth Bale told Real Madrid TV that he's still some way off his best form.

The Welshman was substituted in for goalscorer Alvaro Morata for his first performance in three months, and it took him just 12 minutes to get his own name on the scoresheet with a low far-post finish after a quick counter-attack.

"It will take me a few weeks to fully recover and be at 100%," Bale said, in comments that will surely frighten Los Blancos' upcoming opponents.

"I feel very good after having worked for three months to recover, and to have contributed a goal towards the team's victory," he continued.

"It was difficult to be absent for so long, but the team was winning and that's the most important thing. We want to win both titles and I want to help."

The 27-year-old also thanked Madridistas for their support.

"The fans have been incredible. I have been supported and applauded, and I felt the fans' affection," he concluded.

Zidane: Bale is a special player

After watching his men ease to a 2-0 victory over Espanyol, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane heaped praise on Gareth Bale for making an instant impact upon his return from a long injury layoff.

The Welshman started on the bench, and watched on as Alvaro Morata nodded in a first-half header after a fine cross from Isco.

Morata and Bale then exchanged places in the 71st minute, with the No. 11 substituted on and reminding the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu faithful what they had been missing with a lethal counter-attacking goal.

"I was glad for Bale's return and, above all, for him to feel like a footballer again after spending 3 months away from the pitch," Zidane said in his post-match comments.

"I told him to go out and enjoy the game. He is a special player."

Unlike Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo didn't manage to get on the scoresheet, but that didn't appear to concern the French boss.

"I don't think Ronaldo is anxious, he looks happy and I think he had a good game. He played well for his teammates, and I'm not worried about him for not scoring because he always makes a difference in the key points of the season," the Frenchman assured.

"Ronaldo clearly wasn't offside for the penalty. I'm sure it would've been 3-0 then," he quipped.

The coach also took time to praise his reserve players, particularly goalscorer Morata.

"I'm happy for Morata's goal, it shows that all the players are focused. It's difficult for those who don't get as many minutes, but they're showing that they're always ready," he stated.

"Isco is happy and I'm pleased with how well he's done. He had a great game, and I'm not just looking at his two assists. He worked from the start," the 44-year-old enthused.

Finally, the French boss looked ahead to his side's upcoming fixtures.

"Real Madrid haven't won anything yet. The most important thing is to continue on this path. We have two difficult games ahead, and Wednesday's is a vital one," he warned.

Isco: I'll make a decision on my future at the end of the season

His role in Champions League games is almost testimonial - just 67 minutes against Sporting from all seven matches so far - and though Isco has proved himself decisive in LaLiga again, particularly recently against Osasuna and Espanyol, he'll make a decision on his future at the end of the current campaign.

Missing against Napoli, the former Malaga man has three starts in the last four games, with one goal and two assists.

He was one of the most outstanding players against Espanyol, firstly finding Alvaro Morata with a pinpoint cross right onto the head of the striker, then playing in Gareth Bale for Real Madrid's second, and killer, goal.

It was Isco's fifth assist in the League, sixth if you add one from the Copa del Rey.

"I am calm though I am worried about getting more minutes," he said to beIN Sports after the Espanyol game.

"I am very happy here but a player's career is small.

"We'll make a decision at the end of the season - it's my future at stake."

In Pamplona, he stamped his authority on the game at the Estadio El Sadar, marking the victory that gave Real the points to maintain their lead.

Thereafter, he might've expected to spend at least a portion of the Napoli match on the pitch rather than the bench, but he and the rest of his teammates are already accustomed to the fact that with such competition for places, no one is guaranteed a start.

Gameiro joins historic ranks of LaLiga's fastest hat-tricks

In just four minutes and 45 seconds at El Molinon on Saturday, Atletico Madrid΄s Kevin Gameiro had bagged a hat-trick against Sporting Gijon, one of the fastest ever in LaLiga and the fourth of the Frenchman's career.

He joins a select list of strikers who have managed the feat in double-quick time.

The last had been David Villa in 2005/06, against Athletic Club and scored between minutes 81 and 85.

Ten years before it Bebeto was playing for Deportivo and helped himself to three goals between the 83rd and 86th minutes.

Real Sociedad striker Luis Perez faced Logrones in 1994/95 season and a personal treble late in the first half took the game away from La Real's opponents.

Simeone: Gameiro's speed broke down the match

Atletico Madrid's substitutions were vital in their away victory against Sporting Gijon, Diego Simeone claimed, particularly that of their hat-trick hero Kevin Gameiro.

The Argentine believed his striker's pace was decisive, while he also praised the control Thomas Partey was able to deliver in the centre of the pitch.

"The match was competitive to start with, with chances for both sides," he said in his post-match press conference.

"The substitutes gave us something extra and the strength in the middle and the speed of Gameiro broke down the match.

"I understood that the match was even and that we could hurt them by having fewer players up front and by winning in the middle.

"The spaces were going to exist because Sporting had to push forward too to see if they could win.

"They were very strong, very hard-working and very organised and hoped that they could capitalise on some carelessness.

"The final 15 minutes, with Thomas [Partey] on the pitch, put an end to their strength."

That the relegation zone side made it initially difficult for Los Rojiblancos was not a surprise to the Argentine coach, who pointed to his team's poor recent record at El Molinon.

"We wouldn't have expected anything other than [a difficult match]," Simeone insisted.

"It is always tough at this stadium and this is just our second victory in eight years."

Overall, it was a pleasing afternoon for Simeone on the day he coached his 100th away LaLiga match and he explained exactly why he returns to the Spanish capital with a smile on his face.

"We were content after a first half which was even and in which we had chances via [Antoine] Griezmann and [Angel] Correa, while [Gijon] had some too," he told reporters.

"We leave happy because the team was calm and relaxed enough at the end to hurt them with our play.

"I am happy for Gameiro because it's not easy to score three goals in a match and that will stand him in good stead."

A trip to Germany is next on the Argentine's schedule, as Los Colchoneros prepare for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

Rooney could go to China by the end of February

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney could leave the club by the end of the month after a Chinese club expressed a special interest in him.

In fact, the 31-year-old is said to be receptive to a move as he not started a Premier League game since mid-December.

According to The Telegraph, the transfer could be negotiated and sealed quickly as the Chinese Super League transfer window shuts at the end of February.

The United striker has offers worth at least 35 million euros a year to move to China, while the club could also command a substantial fee as the player still has 18 months left on his contract.

Several Chinese teams, including Beijing Guoan and the Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, had expressed an interest in the player last summer, and it could be a familiar name with an eye on him this time around.

In addition, coach Jose Mourinho is said to be accepting of Rooney's exit.

Προηγούμενο : Comeback spirit | Επόμενο : Barcelona 12 yards from rock bottom
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